October 05, 2005

First of all, if you're

First of all, if you're reading this you're probably not from Alabama. The information is still valuable in an issue that has been brewing for quite some time over the government's misuse of eminent domain. It's relevant because it's something that effects us all over the nation especially since the Kelo v. New London case.

Eminent Domain is generally defined as:

The right of a government to appropriate private property for public use, usually with compensation to the owner.

The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution states:

nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

"Public use" as many understand, is the use of the property in question for vaild public use such as: building of a school, a road, a courthouse, or some other public structure. Kelo brought attention to another issue completely of eminent domain being the right of the government to take your property and sell it to someone else in order to draw in more tax revenue. According to the Supreme Court, this is valid use of eminent domain. As you already know, this is a gross misinterpretation of the Constitution. That being said, it is happening and has been for quite some time now.

The home in this picture was determined to be "blighted" by government officials in Ohio. Designating certain property as "blighted" is one other way government officials manipulate the law to use eminent domain. The term blighted can have various definitions from state to state but in Ohio blighted is defined as:

"Blighted area" means an area within a municipal corporation, which area by reason of the presence of a substantial number of slums, deteriorated or deteriorating structures, predominance of defective or inadequate street layout, faulty lot layout in relation to size, adequacy, accessibility, or usefulness, unsanitary or unsafe conditions, deterioration of site or other improvements, diversity of ownership, tax or special assessment delinquency exceeding the fair value of the land, defective or unusual conditions to title, or the existence of conditions which endanger life or property by fire and other causes, or any combination of such factors, substantially impairs or arrests the sound growth of a municipal corporation, retards the provision of housing accommodations, or constitutes an economic or social liability and is a menace to the public health, safety, morals, or welfare in its present condition and use.

It's quite obvious that the home is, in no way, blighted. The government tried to force the owners to sell their home so that the city could sell the property to condo developers to increase tax revenue for the city. Misuse of eminent domain? Indeed!

In Alabama, the Senate passed a bill, SB68, which would curb misuse of eminent domain in such fashion. An amendment to the Alabama Constitution, Section 23, dealing specifically with eminent domain has been proposed. In the proposed amendment, it is specified that land cannot be taken by the government to be sold to another private party simply to generate increased tax revenue. The bill, HB117, is set to go through the House in Alabama in the next general session. The people of Alabama know that the only way to protect themselves from the misuse of eminent domain is to amend the state's constitution. What is your state's eminent domain policy? Does it specify that your property can't be sold to other private parties in the name of public interest? If your state hasn't already amended their constitution regarding eminent domain I urge you to take a stand and contact your representatives. You never know when someone from the city, county, or state may come knocking on your door to force you to sell your property to set up a shopping mall. This is a very real issue that effects us all.

Check out Basil's Articles of Interest

Posted by everyman at October 5, 2005 01:16 PM | TrackBack
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