eminent domain

last night I read about a case before the supreme court involving eminent domain.

Normally eminent domain is what gives governments the ability to take private property and use it for the public gooduse, like building a road or a reservoir or even to expand a road a few feet on either side. [CORRECTION — It’s for public USE, as per the constitution. Thanks to SayUncle for pointing that out! When people usually think of eminent domain they expect it to be for something good, or at least, communal. Like a firehouse.] Sometimes the property owner gets paid, I’m not sure if that’s national or a state law.

Lately, however, governments have been trying to take private land and give it to big shady developers in order to achieve higher tax revenues! They arguing it’s for the best public ECONOMIC good.

Now, let’s not think too hard about
1. the fact that this is a neighborhood destroying strategy or
2. that developers are rarely the best thing for a neighborhood or even
3. that developers and big box chains don’t honestly put THAT much money into an area.

No. Because all of these flaws are not as terrible to me as the fact that municipalities are bending over backwards to attract developers and their perceived future tax revenues and this is a very shady and illegal seizure of land that allows them to offer developers the best deal in order to edge neighboring communities out of the competition! it’s shameful and short-sighted, and I’m so worried that the supreme court won’t throw this out.

This is happening all over the country — the case before the Supreme Court is a CT case, but it’s going on in Utah (Walmart), for example. People argue that they have to prevent neighborhoods from becoming blighted, but I do think there are better ways than knocking them down!

there’s a good round-up of other cases and opinions at SayUncle.

and you can keep track of the case here also.