19 October, 2009

Eminent Domain Abuse

One of the most frightening power Governments have in the United States is that of Eminent Domain. Essentially, this is the doctrine that states that all property can be seized by the State, so long as it is for the State's use and so long as the owners of that property are compensated. In the past, this has mostly been used to make way for government facilities - post offices, military bases, etc. However, in some parts of the country it is increasingly being used not for government use, but for commercial development.

Here's the scam: A developer wants to put in a shopping center on a piece of land it does not own. The owners of that land do not want to sell. But rather than finding someplace else that will sell, the developers instead go to the local city council and convince them to seize the land (usually in the guise of "economic development"), and then turn around and sell it to them. We're not just talking about economically blighted areas, but in regular, bustling suburbia. And not just individual homes, but thriving businesses, church property, etc. Essentially, if private ownership gets in the way of the plans of a politically well-connected developer, then Eminent Domain is increasingly being used as a weapon to further that developer's plans. And there is very little that home owners can do to stop it.

Think that's far-fetched? Look what's happening in New York state:

New Report Documents Widespread Eminent Domain Abuse Across New York State

This is corruption, pure and simple. I don't care what party you are affiliated with, this sort of abuse should not be tolerated no matter who is in power.

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