Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Are You Master of Your Domain?

Not according to the United States Supreme Court! On June 23, 2005 they ruled that local governments could seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development.
As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.
At issue was the scope of the Fifth Amendment, which allows governments to take private property through eminent domain if the land is for "public use." Property owners must receive "just compensation" for the property though. It can not just be taken.
This is a scary thought. It means that "Big Box Retailers" like Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot and the like can possibly develop privately owned land in inner cities because it will provide jobs and generate tax revenue for the city regardless of who owns the land. At a time when money in our City's treasury is at an all time low this may look like a good option for those in charge.
If I remember my history, we fought a war against an English King to stop things like this from ever happening again. I hope our city leaders remember their history when this opportunity comes knocking!

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