According to the Bowling Green Daily News, the newly elected leaders of the City of Bowling Green, KY are concerned about the (ab)use of eminent domain in the city's downtown revitalization efforts. The paper's editorial board validates this concern and offers some perspective and advice:
- All over this country, lower-income neighborhoods, churches and businesses are being driven off their land by the use of government muscle so that a private developer can come in and put private businesses in their place. Public officials like these transactions because they often raise the tax base.
Yet, eminent domain was never intended for broadening the tax base.
. . . .
Some private-business owners in Bowling Green would gladly sell their properties at a fair price, just as every parcel in the transpark was purchased from a willing seller.
But taking private property for another private development seems to be an effort to acquire property on the cheap and distorts the original intent of eminent domain.
Perhaps a moratorium on eminent domain – except in cases where eminent domain serves a clear, public purpose – should be considered by the city in light of the pending Supreme Court decision.
There's an idea worth considering. And property rights advocates nationwide are hoping that the Supreme Court will provide much more clarity on what a "clear, public purpose" really is in their ultimate decision in the Kelo vs. New London case.
Check out Reason's Eminent Domain Resource Center for the latest on this important issue.
(Hat Tip: Eminent Domain Watch)