A Supreme Court decision quickly makes itself felt--all over

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A Supreme Court decision quickly makes itself felt--all over

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Jul 12, 2005 7:48 pm

Local group opposing eminent domain

Burger King site's history may make it an exception to rule


Published on 7/11/2005
Local News
THE POST-STAR [Glens Falls, NY]

GLENS FALLS -- Using eminent domain to facilitate economic development is "basically a dangerous tool," except, perhaps, in a few cases such as Burger King, said leaders of the local Democracy for America chapter.

"I personally have no problem with them taking Burger King by eminent domain, because it came about by eminent domain," said Larry Dudley, coordinator of the local chapter of the political organization founded by former Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean.

Homes and small businesses, however, should be off limits, in Dudley's opinion.

The local chapter last week unanimously approved a resolution calling for Congress to pass laws restricting the rights of local governments to use eminent domain to take homes to facilitate economic development projects.

"It is basically a dangerous tool. It's easy to misuse it," said Richard Dudley, who spearheaded the resolution.

The resolution was in response to a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month that upheld the right of local governments to seize people's homes and businesses for private development.

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows government to take private property through eminent domain if the land is transferred for "public use." Although they have no choice in whether to give up their properties, land owners whose land is seized must be paid fair market value.

Congress needs to clearly define what constitutes a public use, and require local governments to document the benefits, Richard Dudley said.

"Eminent domain has to be done on a case-by-case basis. It has to be justified," he said.

There may be a rare case where it is justified, but officials must have a viable use for the property, he said, adding that in no case should eminent domain be used to take a private residence for an economic development project.

In Glens Falls, there have been discussions about the possibility of taking the Burger King restaurant and other unspecified properties in order to develop a hotel complex or a Boscov's department store.

Mayor Robert Regan has said that he did not know if he would attempt to use eminent domain to facilitate either project.

City officials should be cognizant of urban renewal efforts in the 1970s that cleared large swaths of downtown for grandiose plans that never materialized, Richard Dudley said.

After a proposal in the '70s for a hotel complex adjacent to the Glens Falls Civic Center didn't come to fruition, city officials ultimately sold the land at the corner of Glen and Warren streets to the owners of the Burger King franchise.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Ralph » Tue Jul 12, 2005 8:16 pm

Yes, there will be a lot of local political activity because of this decision.

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein


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