Emminent Domain May Hit Close to Home

IN A DAY AND AGE where one voice screaming among thousands can have Christian monuments removed from public buildings and development projects shut down for the benefit of an endangered weed, we have the Supreme Court issuing a ruling in June to set the record straight for the majority. However, this ruling comes at the dismay of individual landowners across America, and threatens to further undermine the American privilege of individual ownership.

Eminent domain is the issue being brought to the table — or more correctly, to the courts — as our government legal system dukes it out over land use laws and public benefit.

Eminent domain has been invoked thousands of times, for public infrastructures and developments that include water lines, sewer systems, highways, railroads, and more. If the involved governing bodies determine collectively that there is a public benefit from the placement of such structures, even across private lands, these lands may be commandeered by Uncle Sam, after providing “just compensation” to the owner in the terms of dollars, and the property becomes public.

In recent years various local governments across the U.S. have been invoking eminent domain to acquire lands for privately owned mega-businesses such as shopping malls and retail stores, citing that benefits to the community outweigh the loss of ownership to the individuals. Many believe that increased tax dollars to the community for placement of such mega-stores is an additional incentive.

Tension has risen to the point that a case made it to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the local government in upholding eminent domain. The Supreme Court’s decision last month clarified that local governments may seize people’s homes and businesses — even against their will — for private and public economic development.

Since the laws of this country are dynamic, or ever-changing, such rulings by the high court have a huge impact on future cases as individuals stand their ground against the billion dollar behemoths who are looking for prime space to make their next footprint.

While eminent domain is not the first choice of action, the top 2 retailers in the country have used this tactic a number of times to acquire the position they had been pursuing. More people vote with their dollars than with their ballots, and while some may oppose the pressure to small business and the loss of individual ownership that these developments cause, most consumers will frequent a new “big box” store if one is in their area, and complain if this type of availability is not nearby.

There appears to be little recourse for the general public against Supreme Court rulings of this type, accept to pressure Congressmen into developing new law that would counteract this approach. A California man came up with a brilliant suggestion though. Read on.

WEARE, N.H. – Following a Supreme Court ruling last week that gave local governments power to seize private property, someone has suggested taking over Justice David Souter’s New Hampshire farmhouse and turning it into a hotel.

“The justification for such an eminent domain action is that our hotel will better serve the public interest as it will bring in economic development and higher tax revenue to Weare,” Logan Darrow Clements of California wrote in a letter faxed to town officials in Weare on Tuesday.

Souter, a longtime Weare resident, joined in the 5-4 court decision allowing governments to seize private property from one owner and turn it over to another if doing so would benefit a community.

Tom Clouser is a 38 year old farmer in Pennsylvania. In addition to farming, he and his father publish a monthly 16-page newspaper called “Trees ‘n’ Turf”, which targets subjects of interest to those in land use industries and activities. View their website at http://www.clouserfarm.net

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