August 29, 2005

More Unhappy Kelo Ruling Supporters

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:55 am

In the wake of the Kelo ruling, politicians around the country are finding the renewed belief in the idea that a “person’s home is their castle” (despite what the Supreme Court says) really annoying.

In St. Louis, projects that could be getting the Kelo green light are getting stalled by (oh my) worry about voter backlash (bolds are mine):

Ruling has unexpected effect here – it stalls projects

In the fight to save her home from a bulldozer, Kathy Tripp suffered what looked like a major blow in June.

In a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that cities can condemn people’s houses for private development. It seemed that a shopping center soon would replace Tripp’s Sunset Hills home.

Her loss was supposed to be a gain in Florissant. There, a plan to revive some less-than-holy property near the historic St. Ferdinand Shrine hinged on some extra government muscle to buy land. It got some from the Supreme Court.

But in just two months, the tables quickly have turned. Fueled by a backlash, the Florissant plan was killed – at least for now. Tripp, meanwhile, says her battle has found new life.

Across St. Louis and the nation, the court’s controversial June 23 decision initially was viewed as a win for developers and cities – and a crushing blow for small property owners. So far, it hasn’t worked out that way.

Instead of running rampant, the use of condemnation has stalled. Two such projects in the St. Louis area have failed. In Sunset Hills and other places, opponents of eminent domain are finding new ammunition and support.

“The Supreme Court did us a tremendous favor,” said Tripp, who has lived 22 years in Sunset Hills. “Before the (court) ruling, this kind of thing went on, but nobody knew about it. Now, people are starting to listen to us, thanks to the Supreme Court.”

While the trend has been cheered by property rights advocates, it worries others who think that legitimate projects might be shot down and that development will tilt even more away from older urban areas, such as St. Louis.

Oh boo hoo.

And in Beaver Valley, Pennsylvania (see, BizzyBlog goes to the deepest nooks and crannies of the world to get news; bolds are mine):

The words “eminent domain” had barely settled on the audience before Ambridge Council tabled the resolution.

The measure, introduced at council’s Aug. 8 meeting, would have endorsed a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing the use of eminent domain for economic-development purposes “as a last resort.” But council quickly veered away from it as soon as residents in the audience, particularly those affected during the borough’s last big eminent-domain case when property was seized for a CVS drugstore, began speaking against it.

The Supreme Court ruling sparked an almost instantaneous backlash in Congress, and heated debates in Washington, D.C., for the last month and a half. But while even mentioning eminent domain elicits emotional responses, some local officials say the ruling doesn’t really change how Pennsylvania municipalities can use the law, and rushing to add limits now could hurt communities seeking revitalization projects in the future.

“Redevelopment would be much more difficult if we didn’t have that tool to exercise in a reasonable and intended fashion,” said Frank Mancini Jr., executive director of the Beaver County Redevelopment Authority. “Eminent domain can be abused, but it is a tool Beaver County sure needs when it is absolutely necessary.”

The politicians don’t like it a bit when voters are energized.

That’s nice, but human nature being what it is, the citizen involvement and oversight, while it has shown good staying power, won’t last, and the definition of “reasonable and necessary” will eventually start pushing the limits now allowed by the Supremes.

Legislative solutions are needed, and state governments need to be pressured to pass something, uh, concrete.

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