Jun 24 2005

Government Taking Private Land

Published by at 12:58 pm under All General Discussions,Eminent Domain/Kelo

12/31/05: Nominating this as my best post for 2005 to the Stop The ACLU survey.

One good thing came out of the US SC decision yesterday regarding eminent domain. It brought a spotlight on the socialistic moves afoot in this country to remake America into something we do not want. How many of us have, or are going to, lose the homes we bought, built and cared for now that ‘the greater good’ [of tax revenues and liberal politicians itching for social engineering] is primary over citizens rights? Let’s see what’s beyond New London, CT.

In Hawaii, there was the precursor case where an estate was forced by the court to sell property it was leasing to the leasees themselves as reparations for past land owning in the state:

For example, Stevens cited a Hawaii case in which a trustee for the Bishop Estate challenged a law forcing the trust to sell property to lessees. In that case, the court upheld the law on grounds that there was a compelling public interest for Hawaii to eliminate “the social and economic ills of a land oligopoly.”

That case, known as the Midkiff decision, paved the way for the New London decision, Callies said.

In Newport (KY?) whole neighborhoods were obliterated:

That’s what happened in Newport, where the city has struck a deal with Montgomery developer Bear Creek Capital to develop a retail-office project on 55 acres between Memorial Parkway and Carothers Road, just west of Interstate 471.

The city declared the property blighted in 2002 and subject to private development under terms of eminent domain.

The project necessitated the razing of 96 houses, two churches and one business.

In New Jersey there are massive numbers of people at risk of being tossed out, all across the state, for social engineering experiments:

They are those whose towns have instructed them to hand their property over to private developers, for the greater good.

By the same token, planners all over the state sighed with relief at the decision. Many New Jersey towns — at least 55 since 2003 — are counting on their condemnation power.

Without it, they say, they would never be able to accommodate the grand designs they have hatched with developers.

In Holywood, FL property owned for 34 years is now being taken from a middle class family to be given to a rich developer

Their fight is just starting, but already it’s taking a toll.

Katalin Mach, 57, is trying to keep the city from taking a building her family has owned for 34 years and giving it to a private developer.
Still grieving the husband she lost to leukemia almost eight weeks ago, she visited a doctor Thursday because of chest pains and is taking anti-anxiety medicine to deal with stress, said her son, David Mach.

Across the country the average citizens, who built this country on their sweat and dedication, are losing to developers looking for profit and politicians looking for tax revenues:

An estimated 10,000 cases of condemnation or threatened condemnation for the benefit of private parties occurred between 1998 and 2003, according to a study for the libertarian Institute for Justice. Kansas City, Kan., for instance, used eminent domain to condemn 150 homes to secure the land for a racetrack, while the Mississippi town of Canton secured land for a Nissan manufacturing plant.

In California, a state with massive eminent domain issues, people are rightly worried that their homes are there for the pols and rich to take.

Redevelopment officials celebrated the decision, while some residents became sick with fear about possibly losing their homes.

In San Bernardino County, a slew of plans that include the possibility of eminent domain appeared to be on firm legal ground.

“If you have crooks on the council, you get what you deserve because you elect them,’ he said. “You can always vote them out.’

Residents of redevelopment areas worried officials would see Thursday’s ruling as a green light to push even more aggressively.

“This is not a good day for us,’ said Deanna Adams. “This is not a good day for us at all.’

And what happens when the pol and the developer are one in the same? Do we take their word they will respect us and not use this power?

Regardless of any potential expansion of a city’s powers to take land for public use, the decision to do so is mired by politics, said Poway Mayor Mickey Cafagna, who is a developer.

Finally, even our expression of religion is at risk.

This means government officials, who are driven by their own agendas of increasing tax revenue and overseeing the “right” developments in their city, can trump traditional notions of property rights.

We’ve seen thousands of instances of abuse in recent years. In Orange County, Calif., the city of Cypress invoked eminent domain against a church so that it could transfer the prime property to Costco. Although the plan failed, the city’s reasoning was straightforward: Church members would have to lose their skin so the city would gain increased tax revenue from a big-box store. In Garden Grove, Calif., the city tried to force out an entire neighborhood of well-kept suburban homes – it was stopped after protests – to make way for a theme park. In Lakewood, Ohio, the city tried to use eminent domain to clear away a historic lakefront neighborhood so that it could build upscale condos.

We need to take this country back from the liberal and conservative politicians bent on socialism, cronyism and greed.


I’ll keep adding to this as I find more – for a while! There are so many stories it is mind boggling.

In Freeport TX, one business is being forced to give up property to a neighboring businuss SOLELY on the basis they government can make more money in taxes. [hat tip WorldNetDaily]

Gore is trying to save his grandfather’s business. The city wants to use eminent domain to take 300 feet of Western Seafood’s property and let developers who own the adjacent land build a marina, restaurants and a hotel along the waterfront.

Freeport said it now gets about $37,000 in property taxes from the area. The city estimates that after the area is redeveloped, taxes would bring in $400,000 a year to Freeport.

More from NJ and PA which could include numerous towns:

“All I can say is that my feelings go from irate to numb,” said Michelina Benoit, a homeowner in Ventnor, N.J. “They can bulldoze us and they can laugh all the way to the bank and the government and federal court can cheer them on, but it’s morally wrong, and they know it.”

Officials in Benoit’s Shore town want to seize 17 tracts, including her home, through eminent domain, and deed them to developers who plan to build condos, townhouses and retail space.

Ventnor is one of dozens of towns in New Jersey and Pennsylvania considering the use of eminent domain for redevelopment proposals

15 responses so far

15 Responses to “Government Taking Private Land”

  1. […] big industrial park… Here is a round-up of the government taking of private land here. Hat Tip: InstaPundit   Trackback  […]

  2. mmatters says:

    This was an outstanding post. I’m familiar with the Newport situation, and it was a disgrace.

    I just blogrolled you.

    Tom Blumer
    Mason, OH

  3. AJStrata says:

    Thanks to you on both counts.

  4. JohnG says:

    Goodbye Bronx. Hello New Yankee Stadium.

    George Steinbrenner must be dancing at the prospects.

  5. Svolich says:

    One new tactic in California is just starting to be discussed.

    Here Proposition 13 controls property taxes. Assessed value is established when property is sold. Thereafter it can increase a maximum of 2% per year, and taxes are limited to 1% of assessed value. That means a lot of property that hasn’t changed hands is paying very little in taxes.

    Some of that property is large, industrial stuff, like oil refineries and manufacturing plants. When one of these properties gets sold, it’s usually the underlying corporation that gets sold, not the real estate itself. So some of these places have been unsold since Prop 13 went into effect in 1978. In the 27 years since the assessed value has marched up 2% per year – a total of a 70% increase in value and taxes, while the *real* value has gone up 700-900%.

    Houses are similar. Communities with large populations of older people don’t get the benefit of property value increases, because older people move less, and keep their assessed values down.

    The theory, then, is that a city can condem a piece of property, pay fair market value for it, and then resell it at the same value just to get the 10 fold increase in property taxes. It doesn’t have to be re-sold to a new owner – it can go back to the previous owner, even at a slight discount – and the city makes their money in increased taxes.

    If the owner can’t pay the increased taxes – like someone on a fixed income that owns their home outright – they have no choice but to move somewhere cheaper. By putting higher income people in the property, the neighborhood’s overall value is increased too.

    There are some VERY tempting pieces of property out there. The Irvine Company 95000 acres of Orange County, CA, some of the most expensive real estate in the nation. They’ve developed much of their land in recent decades. But even those who buy the new homes lease the land on long term leases – Irvine retains ownership, and so the assessed value creeps up at 2% per year. Today the land is assessed at under $10,000 per acre – and is really worth $200-$500,000 per acre, depending on location and improvements. Increased property tax revenues from condemned and resold Irvine land alone would be worth $350-$550 million per year.

    Other prime property – theme park, any large office building, large shopping malls, movie studios, apartment complexes, retirement communities, resorts, hotels and marinas.

  6. AJStrata says:


    Yes ,I am aware of prop 13 and how ridiculous it was. I gather everyone agrees in hindsight that there should have been some level of value escalation.

  7. Core Dump says:

    Government Taking Private Land

    The Strata-Sphere » Government Taking Private Land
    Read this and maybe you’ll understand why so many people are worried.
    Someone, somewhere thought that this ruling might signal the end of the Real Estate boom – a chilling thought if you&#821…

  8. […] ed out for the little guy. AJ Strata is rounding up stories from around the country where whole neighborhoods have been obliterated. This is alarming and definitely something to kee […]

  9. […] is ruling may signal the peak of the housing bubble. At the Strata-Sphere is a (growing) list of instances of the gummint taking private land. How many of us have, or are going to, […]

  10. Ornithophobe says:

    If you’re collecting stories of eminent domain abuse; I’d suggest the Land Between the Lakes controversy in Kentucky history, and the seizure of the airport neighborhoods in Louisville. Positively guaranteed to raise one’s blood pressure.

  11. AJStrata says:

    Orni (hope you don’t mind the knickname),

    Thanks, I will see what I can dig up and possibly start a Part Deux.

  12. […]   |  

    « Government Taking Private Land Government Taking Land, Part II A comme […]

  13. Teamster 2 says:

    I think this ruling opens the way for the UN. biosphere land grabs which will turn almost 1/3 of thje counntry into protected water sheds. It appears at first glance to simply be to eliminate any personal property rights and the first impression is usually correct.

  14. Good post. After hearing the Kelo decision, I had three thoughts.

    1) Glad my mom, who lives in a popular resential of Charlotte with ever-expanding shopping complexes, just sold her home with plans to move into a retirement community. One less private property issue to worry about.

    2) Feeling kind of righteous that I’ve been out of the home ownership sphere the last few years. No worries about the gov’mint stealing my house (neener, neener). Conversely, one day I’d like to get back into home ownership so I have a whole new set of future worries.

    3) A good friend has multiple adjacent waterfront properties on a lake north of Houston (within a 90-min drive). Boy is she screwed.

  15. […] the “eminent domain” land takeover in New Jersey? Hawaii?  Kentucky? Guess who this could happen to […]