Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Arguments for Eminent Domain

Seriously, which is more practical—a few homes’ towel closets or one big Linens & Things Superstore?

Seizing property for “public use” overturns decades of misanthropic homeowners refusing entry to absolute strangers.

Upward mobility for all as state governments can now reclassify “blighted area” to mean “currently without a sports complex.”

Dissenting opinion that with eminent domain a “spectre of condemnation hangs over all property” is easily countered by the fact homeowners have had more than enough time to plant a garden that would attract tourists and so negate the need for seizure.

Developers ability to lowball offers to mandatory sellers means goodbye to lengthy and oft-tedious bidding process.

Allows town to update scruffy historic district with spiffy parking facility for Best Buy.


D.B. Echo said...

Uh-oh. Is this coming from personal experience?

A little over a decade ago a small shopping plaza in Wilkes-Barre was being reconfigured into a Home Depot and Burlington Coat Factory. This is just off a residential area, and the parking lot ajoins with the back yards of several residences. One of the homeowners closest to the main entrance complained loudly and vigorously about the increase in traffic, noise, and light pollution - so vigorously that Wilkes-Barre played the eminent domain card (probably illegally) and tore the guy's house down. They didn't do anything with it - just left it as a vacant lot, as a warning to anyone else who might think to complain.

D.B. Echo said...

That vacant lot can be seen on Google Earth at 41 degrees 14' 43.66" N, 75 degrees 51' 37.81" W.

Chris said...

What property owners are seeing in NYC and elsewhere is that the notion of “public good” is corrupted in today’s interpretation of eminent domain; plus the fact that there is a lot of play in the “just” of just compensation.

New York and Pennsylvania, among other states, will see more eminent domain “takings” thanks to the rising interest in natural gas drilling in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale. With more drilling comes more pipelines and more underground gas storage fields — and that (pipelines & storage fields) always means eminent domain.

The excellent Institute for Justice of Kelo fame declines to intervene in energy/utility “takings” because, they told me, of the “public good” premise. The Institute should reconsider what support it can offer in this expanding “market” for eminent domain abuse.

The stories are horrendous; energy companies and utilities are no better than Bruce Ratner.

But property owners can fight back. Our two-year battle against Houston-based Spectra Energy which seized our property rights for an underground natural gas storage field led to the development of a website which has begun to attract whistle blowers inside the energy industry. We are collaborating and helping property owners in many states. For info, visit the site: http://www.spectraenergywatch.com/blog/

By the way, our new neighbor, Spectra Energy, has had continued operational problems at this facility resulting in environmental issues -- air and water.

Private property rights (including water) are so fundamental that founding fathers such as Samuel Adams described it as an “essential” right and wrote, “that no man can justly take the property of another without his consent.”