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Nineveh
September 29th, 2004, 06:20 PM
The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to decide when governments can seize homes and businesses for economic development projects, a key question as cash-strapped cities seek ways to generate tax revenue.
At issue is the scope of the Fifth Amendment, which allows governments to take private property through eminent domain provided the owner is given "just compensation" and the land is taken for "public use."
Susette Kelo and several other homeowners in a working-class neighborhood in New London, Conn., filed a lawsuit after city officials announced plans to raze their homes to clear the way for a riverfront hotel, health club and offices. The residents refused to budge, arguing that it was an unjustified takeover of their property.
They argued the seizure would be proper only if it served to revitalize slums or blighted areas dangerous to the public.
New London contends that the condemnations are proper because the development plans serving a "public purpose" — such as boosting economic growth — are valid "public-use" projects that outweigh the property rights of the homeowners.
The Connecticut Supreme Court agreed with New London, ruling 4-3 in March that the mere promise of additional tax revenue justified the condemnation.
More than 1,000 properties nationwide were threatened or condemned from 1998 to 2002, according to the Institute for Justice, a Washington public-interest law firm representing the New London homeowners.
In many cases, the group says, cities are pushing the limits of their power to accommodate wealthy developers. Courts, meanwhile, are divided over the extent of city power, with seven states saying economic development can justify seizure and eight states allowing a takeover only if it eliminates blight.
In New London, city officials envision replacing a stagnant enclave with commercial development that would attract tourists to the Thames riverfront, complementing an adjoining Pfizer Corp. research center and a proposed Coast Guard museum.
"The record is clear that New London was a city desperate for economic rejuvenation," the city's legal filing states, in asking the high court to defer to local governments in deciding what constitutes "public use."
In other action yesterday, the high court agreed to hear an appeal involving an amateur radio operator who says the city of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., unjustly denied him a permit to use a radio antenna for commercial purposes.
At issue is whether the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 provides for monetary damages from city officials in cases of violations or simply for a court order requiring the city's compliance. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the radio operator was entitled to compensation.cite (http://www.washtimes.com/national/20040928-111354-8411r.htm)

Turbo
September 29th, 2004, 06:50 PM
What do think, Nineveh?

Nineveh
September 29th, 2004, 07:06 PM
"the mere promise of additional tax revenue justified the condemnation."

I don't think anyone is really a land owner anymore :(

In Kentucky, there are many caves (privately owned) to see around the Mammoth (federally owned) area. The Fed basically did this same thing to the people living around Mammoth. It's not like the owners before them had tried to prohibit access or anything... Anyway... At one cave, the owners said they once had dye dropped into an underground river in "their" cave to see where it came out. The dye showed up in Mammoth. They let the issue drop because if the fed got wind of it, "their" cave would become Fed property.

Will SCotUS do the right thing? Hardly ever. My personal opinion is a man has a right to own, really own his own land.

Nineveh
September 29th, 2004, 07:10 PM
ooh! I found this by Walter Williams (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=40676). He is sooooo cool :D

Free-Agent Smith
September 29th, 2004, 07:24 PM
Just outside of the city limits where I live many farmers were forced to sell their property to the government for a highway that lessened the traffic through several towns. The local farmers made many complaints but ended up losing their property. Now this happens in New London, Conn.

Who is fighting for the rights of the citizens to keep their property that they have worked for? Is economic development really a good enough reason to force people to sell their land?

This also the case of how the federal government aquired the Mammoth Caves in Kentucky.

Turbo
September 29th, 2004, 08:29 PM
I haven't thought through this issue in great detail, but it brings to my mind King David's purchase of Ornan's threshing floor.

1 Chronicles 21
18Therefore, the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David that David should go and erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 19So David went up at the word of Gad, which he had spoken in the name of the LORD. 20Now Ornan turned and saw the angel; and his four sons who were with him hid themselves, but Ornan continued threshing wheat. 21So David came to Ornan, and Ornan looked and saw David. And he went out from the threshing floor, and bowed before David with his face to the ground. 22Then David said to Ornan, "Grant me the place of this threshing floor, that I may build an altar on it to the LORD. You shall grant it to me at the full price, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people."

23But Ornan said to David, "Take it to yourself, and let my lord the king do what is good in his eyes. Look, I also give you the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing implements for wood, and the wheat for the grain offering; I give it all."

24Then King David said to Ornan, "No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing." 25So David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place.

Was David right to command Ornan to sell that property?
He was certainly willing, but what if he hadn't been? Did Ornan have the option to say no?


I certainly believe that the government can abuse its authority, but I don't know that I'd want to see "eminent domain" done away with altogether. It may be necessary in order to provide effective infrastructure.

Nineveh
September 29th, 2004, 08:57 PM
True...
But we are looking at a mountain that was pretty special to God. I don't think there is any territory in America that rises to Onan's threshing floor :)

Deuteronomy 27:17
"Cursed is the man who moves his neighbor's boundary stone." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!"

Job 24:2
Men move boundary stones; they pasture flocks they have stolen.

Hosea 5:10
Judah's leaders are like those who move boundary stones. I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water.

None of these address the government doing it though. Unless we apply the king needing to follow the law as well.

There is a man out west who has kept everyone off his land to preserve the treasures it hides. It's rich with Native American artifacts. Valuable? You bet! Could it be argued taking his land is for the common good? Sure. But that doesn't make it right. It's his.

I want to say I agree with you about the need for eminent domain, but I can't think of any examples that would prove my case. I keep coming back to: when is stealing ok?

Crow
September 29th, 2004, 09:20 PM
Originally posted by Turbo
I certainly believe that the government can abuse its authority, but I don't know that I'd want to see "eminent domain" done away with altogether. It may be necessary in order to provide effective infrastructure.

I wouldn't want to see it done away with totally either, but I would like to see the abuses stopped. Seizing property so that it can be turned over for private development is nuts, as it is not being seized for a public need, even if it does eventually benefit the public indirectly. Neither is seizing land for housing projects--build them on vacant land, even if it isn't the exact land one would want for the purpose.

Eminent domain should be used very rarely. Road widening when an existing road is no longer safe due to increased traffic seems reasonable. Building a new road or bridge when a need clearly exists is also something I could see as reasonable. And because an owners property is being taken against his wishes, I think that the principle of restitution should be somehow applied to this necessary infringement upon his rights. Paying an owner an amount for his property in excess of market value would be a good way to do this.

Another instance I can think of is if the property is run-down and unsafe, such as an abandoned building, and the owner refuses to demolish the unsafe structure or make repairs. In this case, restitution should not apply.

We are shown an example in scripture of how God prescribed that people make restitution for accidental harm to a neighbor, and gave a much harsher penalty if the probability of harm was foreseeable and that person did not take precautions to protect his neighbor. Our rights to personal property do not divorce us from responsibility to respect our neighbor's need for safety.

Exodus 21
28 "If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull must be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. 29 If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull must be stoned and the owner also must be put to death.


I lived near a condemned falling down apartment building about 20 years ago, and it swarmed with rats and drug users. The owner was repeatedly asked to either raze the structure, fix it, or if he didn't feel like doing either, to sign it over to the city and they would do it. Finally after no response from the owner, the city took him to court and was awarded the property as the owner was delinquent in taxes, and the building was torn down. My Doberman killed rats for weeks that had fled from that dump. To me, cleaning up a health hazard like that was a good use of eminent domain, although technically that is not how it was seized.

Nineveh
September 30th, 2004, 11:33 AM
Originally posted by Crow

Eminent domain should be used very rarely. Road widening when an existing road is no longer safe due to increased traffic seems reasonable. Building a new road or bridge when a need clearly exists is also something I could see as reasonable. And because an owners property is being taken against his wishes, I think that the principle of restitution should be somehow applied to this necessary infringement upon his rights. Paying an owner an amount for his property in excess of market value would be a good way to do this.

Another instance I can think of is if the property is run-down and unsafe, such as an abandoned building, and the owner refuses to demolish the unsafe structure or make repairs. In this case, restitution should not apply.

Thank you Crow! I was looking for those :)

Turbo
October 2nd, 2004, 08:57 PM
Originally posted by Nineveh

Deuteronomy 27:17
"Cursed is the man who moves his neighbor's boundary stone." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!"

Job 24:2
Men move boundary stones; they pasture flocks they have stolen.

Hosea 5:10
Judah's leaders are like those who move boundary stones. I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water.

None of these address the government doing it though. Unless we apply the king needing to follow the law as well. These verses are about moving boundary markers in order to steal land. The thief isn't paying for the land.


...I keep coming back to: when is stealing ok? If the government pays the market value (or better) for the property, I don't think stealing is the right word to use.

Turbo
October 2nd, 2004, 09:07 PM
Originally posted by Crow

Eminent domain should be used very rarely. Road widening when an existing road is no longer safe due to increased traffic seems reasonable. Building a new road or bridge when a need clearly exists is also something I could see as reasonable. Those are the kind of scenarios I had in mind, too.


And because an owners property is being taken against his wishes, I think that the principle of restitution should be somehow applied to this necessary infringement upon his rights. Paying an owner an amount for his property in excess of market value would be a good way to do this.Yeah, I think the restitution should depend on the degree of the infringement. If only part of one's property is needed for say, expanding a road, paying the market value of the property might suffice (as was the case with David and Ornan). But if a property owner ends up having to move, it would seem reasonable to pay the owner enough to cover expenses related to the move.

Nineveh
October 3rd, 2004, 12:02 PM
Would it be fair to say SCotUS should draw a line between "public good" and "public safety"? Define the term down a little in essence?

Zakath
October 3rd, 2004, 03:04 PM
Originally posted by Nineveh
...I don't think anyone is really a land owner anymore... Ahh, grasshopper, you have stumbled upon a great truth. :doh:

No one has really owned land, free and clear, since the states began taxing real property (i.e. "land" and "improvements"). We merely rent the land from the governments.

Anyone who doubts me should talk to someone who stopped paying their property taxes and see how long they maintained title to their property...

:rolleyes: