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Posted: 5/3/2003 5:45:09 AM EDT
[url]http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,85753,00.html[/url] Homeowners Battle to Keep Their Property Friday, May 02, 2003 By Liza Porteus NEW YORK — Matt Dery of New London, Conn., has been fighting for almost six years to hold on to his property. Four homes sit on the land that has been in Dery's family since they moved from Italy in the 1890s, surviving even through the struggles of the Great Depression. Dery lives in one of the four homes with his wife, son and niece. His father and mother live next door. His mother, Wilhelmina, 85, has lived in her house for her entire life. But since the city of New London ceded eminent domain powers to the New London Development Corporation, the NLDC is trying to take the property for various private uses. "I'm not going to have somebody take it away from us," Dery said. "There's no legitimate reason anybody should lose their homes so that someone can put money in their pockets." Dery checks the state Supreme Court's Web site daily to see when his case is going to be heard. A lower court sided with the family, but NLDC appealed the ruling. "It's really a powerless feeling," Dery said. Eminent domain (search) allows the government to take real estate to fulfill a public purpose, like building a police station or public road. Private residents are supposed to be compensated under eminent domain, however, owners are frequently not given market value. [red]Last week, the Institute for Justice (search) released a report showing that in the last five years, state and local governments have taken or threatened to take more than 10,000 homes, businesses, churches and private land. But the property was not to be used for government projects. According to examples from the report, governments condemned a family's home so that a manager of a planned new golf course could live in it; evicted four elderly siblings from their home of 60 years so developers could build a private industrial park; and removed a woman in her 80s from her home of 55 years in order, they said, to expand a sewer plant. Instead, the municipality ended up giving the woman's home to an auto dealership.[/red] "It's one of those situations where the government just looks and says, 'We own the whole city, how would we like to design it?'" said study author and IJ senior attorney Dana Berliner. "All of the incentives are towards freely using eminent domain as a club to threaten private, small home and business owners into giving up their property to large private developers." But defenders say the process of eminent domain is needed to clean up faltering communities. "Things are not being done in a slaphappy way," said Juan Otero, legislative counsel for the National League of Cities (search). "Cities have to deal with a whole host of issues in terms of protecting the health, welfare and safety, and economic development of cities and towns. I take issue of the premise that somehow cities are profiteering when they have to take a holistic approach to all of these factors." Some experts say eminent domain helps clean up grungy neighborhoods quickly and attract investment. "Eminent domain has been used most often for economic housing and economic development in some of the worst-off areas of the city — areas where no one will invest," said John Kromer, senior consultant at the Fels Institute of Government (search) at the University of Pennsylvania, and author of the book, Neighborhood Recovery. According to the IJ report, California, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan and Ohio have the largest track records of employing eminent domain to give property to private parties. Cities accused of being the worst abusers of eminent domain include Detroit, Riviera Beach, Fla., San Jose, Calif., and Philadelphia. "It certainly is not what the founding fathers of the United States had in mind when they put in the Constitution that private property could only be taken for public use — they weren't thinking of shopping malls," Berliner said. On the upside, the report says Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wyoming have not employed eminent domain for private uses. Philadelphia acquired 2,500 of the area's 30,000 abandoned properties last year through eminent domain laws. A blight program launched two years ago allows the city to acquire old dilapidated buildings and sites that owners have walked away from. "We were looking at that as a sign of progress," said city spokeswoman Barbara Grant. "What we are trying to do is clear the way for developers to be able to build the land" with housing and businesses. But a growing movement has emerged to fight what some call government "land grabs." "We've seen grassroots groups springing up all over the country from people who are really energized about this," Berliner said. "They aren't political people but they see what's happening and they realize it's wrong." Arizona state Rep. Eddie Farnsworth has sponsored a bill to limit eminent domain. It has passed the state House and is awaiting state Senate action. Different versions of the bill could be hammered out next week. "Municipalities simply want to maintain absolute authority to take away private property and that's wrong," Farnsworth, a Republican, told The Arizona Republic. "Abuses are rampant and we must stop them." Supporters of eminent domain say their efforts are not meant to worsen their area's homeless rates but to improve the quality of life in the communities. "These city council folks work very hard to make sure there's transparencies and make sure the processes are open," Otero said. "In terms of the greatest good for the greatest dollar for the greatest benefit … it is a last resort … Local governments have to build livable communities — that's the bottom line." But that's simply no justification for taking people's homes away, say opponents. "Nobody should have that power," Dery said.
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 6:11:14 AM EDT
The area in New London where this is occuring is right across the river from the General Dynamics submarine yard. It is an economically depressed area that is getting a big boost by attracting businesses there. I think Pfizer is expanding into that neighborhood and will bring many jobs with it. The shipyard used to be THE employer in the area but they don't build too many Tridents any more. Unfortunately the BIG employers now are the two Indian Casinos up yhe river,(but that is another story.)
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 6:19:43 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 6:27:14 AM EDT
Lick your wounds, bide your time, and get revenge. It's your one option.
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 6:28:05 AM EDT
... Those numbers are really too low to even wiggle the needle. Sure, there's negligence and abuse but isn't there always in just about everything. Most eminent domain cases are thoroughly researched and usually take decades to actually evict residents. The most part it serves the greater good.
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 6:43:52 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Winston_Wolf: ... Those numbers are really too low to even wiggle the needle. Sure, there's negligence and abuse but isn't there always in just about everything. Most eminent domain cases are thoroughly researched and usually take decades to actually evict residents. The most part it serves the greater good.
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Ahhh yes..... The old give up a little freedom for the greater good argument......gotcha.
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 6:45:32 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 6:53:01 AM EDT
Originally Posted By RipMeyer:
Originally Posted By Winston_Wolf: ... Those numbers are really too low to even wiggle the needle. Sure, there's negligence and abuse but isn't there always in just about everything. Most eminent domain cases are thoroughly researched and usually take decades to actually evict residents. The most part it serves the greater good.
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Ahhh yes..... The old give up a little freedom for the greater good argument......gotcha.
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... Perhaps I'm naive about these things but for me, living in Arizona 40 years, I've never even heard of an abuse here. ... The first that come to mind for me are proposed freeway corridors. It takes literally decades for construction to even begin in proposed areas. Most evictees (is that a word) get compensated handsomely by the State for an otherwise rundown, dilapidated home. You say "[i]... but it's his home by God![/i]", well, true but if these very rare and few uses of emiment domain weren't exercised intelligently more people would suffer the consequences. Not to sound curt, but in America, everything is for sale and nothing is truly owned, sorry.
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 7:26:07 AM EDT
If the government didn't have the right of eminent domain we wouldn't have roads, airports, seaports, or military bases. It's not like eminent domain is something that was thought up in the last decade - it's been a recognized governmental right since the 16th century. The "bar" for excercising eminent domain is so high that the govenment winds up paying far more than the property is worth. Believe me, it's a measure of last resort.
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 7:30:27 AM EDT
Originally Posted By NoVaGator: If the government didn't have the right of eminent domain we wouldn't have roads, airports, seaports, or military bases.
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what they've been doing is using eminent domain to take, for example, someones home away so the land can be given/sold to a private party. for example, the city determines that a restaurant would be better for the public than a house. you lose your house, some business owner gets the land to build a restaurant.
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 7:42:07 AM EDT
This was not legal in Michigan until the 1970s, when Coleman Young, Mayor of Detroit, used this power to evict thousands of Poles from the City to sell the land to General Motors to employ 1,000 workers. (And insure that he was totally safe in office, at the time the city population was still almost 40% white). Now that the court battles said this was just great, Michigan is one of the number one users of this way of gaining land in the nation. Almost every large project in any area in Michigan starts with the city, county, or township taking the land. The people either take the first offer, or they can take the offer but hire a lawyer to fight the amount and try to get fair market value. The bet is that the lawyer and the two to four year of agency and court fights will net them more money in price then the costs. This law is a land baron's dream come true.
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 7:42:45 AM EDT
Yeah, Pfizer did open a new office complex in New London, it doubled in size before they even poured the concrete, IIRC it started out to be a 200,000 sq ft, and ended up around 400,000 sq ft. New London has been fighting to get that property for a while, and has really raised the taxes on homes in that area. One homeowners taxes went from like $9000 a year to over $16000 a year. And it isn't even a ritzy neighborhood. Pfizer is pushing a lot of weight around, in the area, and they are fast becoming the largest employer in Groton/New London. The rent on the Apt. I had in Groton, went up from $895 in 2000 to $1495 Nov 2002. But getting back on track, this eminent domain crap has got to stop, it has been abused, again and again. And anyone that resists is investigated, railroaded, or blackballed. They get accused of trying to price gouge, and make excessive profit, etc.... Most have lived on the properties for 15+ years, and more than a few have had the properties in their families for 50+ years. Any more I support the property owners, and say screw the gov.
Link Posted: 5/3/2003 7:50:25 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 6:15:51 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Pangea: Lick your wounds, bide your time, and get revenge. It's your one option.
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I agree with you Pangea. Taking land for apparently legitimate (and that's questionable) government purpose is bad enough. But, when it is to benefit what are obviously the right buddies of those in power, and the courts are stacked against you, you can walk away with your tail between your legs, or act. If someone did this to my family or me, those who did it, condoned it and benefited from it would never enjoy peace the rest of their lives.
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 6:18:49 AM EDT
Just stop paying your property tax and find out who owns your property.
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 6:25:43 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 6:50:21 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Bearlaker: Just stop paying your property tax and find out who owns your property.
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Yep!! All "Eminent Domain" is, is the REAL owner asserting THEIR ownership! And if you don't like their thievery, and resist them, some of your fellow gun owners dressed in funny clothes will evict you, and carry you out in a pine box!! I think what irks me so much, is the difficulty defending yourself in the courts if you ever get there, in an eminent domain case. It's really too bad we don't use juries the way they were intended anymore.
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 7:09:57 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 7:17:56 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 7:30:10 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 7:32:27 AM EDT
The "rent" a.k.a. property taxes in my town is set to go up again...Cleverly concealed as "levies" to pay for everything stupid. If a levy doesn't pass, the already well compensated department requesting it uses the foolproof vote collecting method of screaming fiscal crises and stuffing it in a low-turnout intermediate vote where only the fools duped into believing the "police department in a town of 15,000 will cease to exist and be forced to turn over police power to the county sherrif's" yea, right. We also have one of the RICHEST school districts in the state, and evertime another massive levie fails they threaten to cut out sports and extra curriculars. GAURANTEED to get the soccer mom and football dad vote...pathetic. Fortunately, I have not heard much in the way of eminent domain abuses yet.
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 7:33:47 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 7:42:03 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 7:51:48 AM EDT
The Texas Motor SPeedway ILLEGALY used eminent domain to sieze a lot of property for their PRIVATE use.
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 8:00:52 AM EDT
This is happening to my dad as we speak. The town of Aberdeen annexed more property, making the town physically larger. This allowed them to extend city sewer and water to the new area, allowing businesses to build there. Enter Cal Ripken Jr. (whom I know and went to high school with). He decides to build a minor league stadium and baseball complex on an old farm that he bought from former state senator Clarence Long. Naturally, there was not enough road infrastructure to support such a stadium, and it was only two years later that both houses next to my dad's were condemned. Both homeowners got paid a little over market value and left. Then they decided they wanted some of my dad's land to widen the main road. His house will now be a corner lot at the main road and the new stadium access road. No biggie at first glance, he asked to just trade the land off the front for the new land (formerly the neighbor's yard) along the new road, and add a driveway to the new road, closing the front driveway. Shouldn't have been a big deal except that the county owns the main road and the town owns the new road. He is now in a big legal battle to force them to be sensible. The county offered $8k for the front land (a joke at best) while the town will not take less then $30k for the neighbor's land. The tracts are about the same size and neither will be large enough to build anything on. They are trying to rip him off plain and simple. So my dad counter-offered the county demanding $50k in hopes they will settle at $30k. In the mean time he is paying a lawyer to try to get them to just do the damn trade and move on. Corrupt bastards!
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 8:17:13 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 8:26:42 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Sweep:
Originally Posted By Winston_Wolf: Not to sound curt, but in America, everything is for sale and nothing is truly owned, sorry.
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Then if it's not owned, how can it be for sale? If this is true, then we live in a communist country.
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Yup.
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 1:01:43 PM EDT
They put I91 right through our 3 generation farm and basically put us out of business access to our pasture land went from 200 yards to 24 miles not bridge no nothing!!!! I am not whineing at the time defense highways made alot of sense all I am saying is the next time you want to put in a new ordinance think very long and hard about how it will effect the freedom of not only you but others!!! People with a backed up septic or a junk yard especially!!!!
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