Hidden Nook

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Government seizing property

[Media Source*]

(USA Today) It's called eminent domain and governments have the right to take owners property for public use (parks, schools, etc.) but when it comes to private use (replacing homes with hotels, banks, etc.) are the owners out of luck? Case scenario, Connecticut.
On Tuesday, the court will hear an appeal from Kelo and about a dozen other holdout owners of property near Fort Trumbull State Park. They are trying to prevent the city of New London from seizing their land to clear the way for a private development project that would include a hotel, a conference center and offices.

The city has argued that redeveloping 90 acres along the river and near a new Pfizer research plant would give a much-needed economic boost to the city of about 26,000 people, where the unemployment rate of 7.6% is about twice the state's rate.

The case is going before the U.S. Supreme Court now after the owners lost in the state supreme court. If (as some expect) the town wins this will create precedent that will allow the government to seize your property for whatever business endeavor they desire. And that is something that I am not in favor of.

The fifth Amendment allows government to seize property from private owners for public use (as long as their is just compensation for it), but owners such as Kelo are pointing out that the town (New London) is not using it for public use at all, but merely for business in order to boost up tax revenue throughout the year (they have been going through a recession for a while so I see their "rationalization" for doing so). However if governments can alter this then any private property they deem necessary for "economic growth" would be forfeited to the "good of the community" (hints of communism here?). Unfortunately history is not on my side in this case, as other states have taken away property from their owners.
The state court cited two U.S. Supreme Court rulings, from 1954 and 1984. In the 1954 ruling, U.S. justices upheld the power of eminent domain for urban renewal in parts of Washington, D.C. Thirty years later, the high court allowed Hawaii's Legislature to condemn large tracts concentrated among a few owners — a vestige of the feudal system of the state's original Polynesian settlers — for distribution to many residents.

My sympathies go towards the owners...especially Kelo who has just bought the 1893 Victorian cottage eight years ago as a permanent home. Selah.

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By Darnell Clayton • 1:31 AM • Email Post • •


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