Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

TheAnk

Eminent Domain and Providence

Recommended Posts

Just a horrific Supreme Curt ruling yesterday.. I can't believe they ruled in favor of ED for private use.. So, what happens first? I bet a lot of people are going to be displaced (for real Cotuit) on Fed Hill by this.. This just clears the way for big boxing Prov I think..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I heard about this and I was shocked.... Is it as bad as it seems, or will it somehow be regulated? God I hope so....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

State rules have tended to give stronger protections than the federal rules have in the past. Of course in most cases it's the state looking to take property for redevelopment. I think the chances of Rhode Island tightening the rules on emminent domain in response to this ruling are pretty slim. And I agree, a lot of people need to be worried about their property in areas like Federal Hill.

Of course on Federal Hill, there are a lot of slumlords that the city could evict in the name of economic development, not necessarily a bad thing, but there are a lot of good landlords with what may be considered sub-standard property (or at least property without granite counter-tops :rolleyes: ) that may get caught up in a move to get rid of the slum lords.

Sort of makes me worry about where, or if I should be looking to buy (maybe I'll look in Canada, what are their emminent domain laws like?).

The plaintiffs have an opportunity to ask the court to reconsider it's ruling, but I don't really know anything about the Supreme Court. Seems unlikely they'd change their mind, though it was a 5-4 decision, they just need one justice to reconsider. Not holding my breath on that though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really don't see why New London felt they needed to go all the way to the Supreme Court for this project. From what I've seen on the news, it appears that most of the area has been vacated, and there are only a few homes on the perifery where the owners were refusing to go. Could they not have found an architect capable enough of designing a project around these homes?

This Google satellite map shows the area in question in New London. You can see several houses scattered about the middle of the site. But look at all that has already been cleared. They can't find a way to work around these people? It seems like a residential infill around them would be a good use for the area on the south side of the parcel. The north side is closer to Downtown and the highways, focus business developement there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It does happen in RI.. Take the Smithfield Dow/Fidelity case.. They took some guy's land through ED, and then didn't even end up using it.. It happens all the time for "public good" (read: private investment and tax rolls).. it is appauling to me, even though I am probably the most conservative here.. This seems to be a step toward a socialist state, where the GOV can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants to you...

And, the GOV doesn't give you fair value.. They go by assessed value, which of course as you know is never accurate..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What shocks me further is that the conservative block of the court actually tried to protect homeowners from big business in this instance and our usually liberal justices, perhaps in the name of bettering the "entire community", sided with the city gov. on this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a horrific Supreme Curt ruling yesterday.. I can't believe they ruled in favor of ED for private use.. So, what happens first? I bet a lot of people are going to be displaced (for real Cotuit) on Fed Hill by this.. This just clears the way for big boxing Prov I think..

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

If one is a libertarian or otherwise generally opposed to the exercise of governmental power I can appreciate opposition to the Court's New London decision, but I don't think a particular vision of urban planning, for example dislike of bix box development, necessarily results in similar opposition. The Court simply agreed with New London that "public use" encompassed a development intented to foster economic growth. Whether you like the choice New London made is a seperate issue, and I guess my central point. While the Supreme Court's decision does empower citys to faciliate bad big box construction, it also allows citys to help to foster the type of construction that many on this board would support, mixed use, smarth growth etc. The Court's opinion places the decisions regarding the manner in which that power will be exercised in the hands on the democratically elected representatives, where, at least in my view it belongs. As a practical example, it is my understanding that the City has used its ED power to take (at least portions of) those two decripit properties accross from the State House in conjenction with the Marriot/Masonic temple project. I think the private development of that property is a great thing, and I am glad the Supreme Court agrees that the Providence has the power to facilitate it.

With regard to the concerns about Federal Hill, based on my own dealings in ward politics, i think it is highly unlikely that the City Council would use its ED power to push through development that would disrupt that neighborhood. That is not to say that big box won't happen, just that I don't see the Council giving a private developer a hand in doing so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What shocks me further is that the conservative block of the court actually tried to protect homeowners from big business in this instance and our usually liberal justices, perhaps in the name of bettering the "entire community", sided with the city gov. on this.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Right! Excellent point Magellan.. The die-hard liberals and the moderates ALL voted for this... While ALL the conservatives voted against it..

And I'll tell you why.. Although this particular case involved an office park for Pfiser (not sure on that), the underlying general driver behind this is the reduction of individuals' rights to own property...

And the #1 thing that needs to occur in order to bring a state to a communist state is the abolishion of personal property.. Ginsberg and Breyer basically fooled the American public into thinking this was to help big business and big boxes, when it was actually a thinly veiled manifestation of forwarding collectivism and socialism..

Its scary stuff..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What shocks me further is that the conservative block of the court actually tried to protect homeowners from big business in this instance and our usually liberal justices, perhaps in the name of bettering the "entire community", sided with the city gov. on this.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Nothing shocking. The overall split has nothing to do with big business versus homeowners, but rather everything to do with how much power government may have.

Thomas would prefer we revert to pre-New Deal. Scalia close to Thomas. Rehnquist is generally ok with New Deal, not so crazy about mid-sixities civil rights and environmental regulation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing shocking.  The overall split has nothing to do with big business versus homeowners, but rather everything to do with how much power government may have. 

Thomas would prefer we revert to pre-New Deal.  Scalia close to Thomas.  Rehnquist is generally ok with New Deal, not so crazy about mid-sixities civil rights and environmental regulation.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Exactly Yossarian. The liberal justices wanted to further the scope of government.. I'm glad other people see it this way.. And not at face value.. Well done..

Even though I can assume from your post that we share opposite views on the topic, it is good to see that other people see underlying story..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately it is the people who are less politically powerful (the poor, minorities) who will be targeted with these powers. Far easier to target someone who doesn't have a voice.

This was the topic of NOW on PBS last night. They focused on Long Branch, NJ (among a few other communities), where the city is tearing down waterfront homes to build luxury condo highrises. It is the politically powerful stepping on the politically weak.

As far as just compensation, one elderly woman was talking about how hard her and her husband had to work to buy their property in the 60s. She's not going to be just compensated for those years of labour that are now all for naught. She's not going to be compensated for her memories (it seemed that her husband was no longer with us). She won't compensate for the years of work and money put into her property. And she won't be compensated for her lost security, they displaced her once, what's to say they won't displace her again?

As for the liberal/conservative split, like most things, I hardly see it as black and white as that. Sandra Day O'Connor dissented for one thing (and dissented exactly with my feelings about it). This liberal is certainly not in favour of displacing the poor and denying people their property rights in favour of wealthier individuals and businesses.

I'm far more concerned about big business' succesful ploys to buy out government (both parties) than I am by the Democrats supposed desire to turn this into a communist country. If cities like New London were not set to drift on their own by the powers that be in state government, they would not need these fundraising schemes that include displacing people for business. I had to explain in the thread about this in Urban Discussions, that though Connecticut it the wealthiest state in the country, New London isn't riding high.

Over the last 50 years we've sucked all the wealth out of our cities, and left the poor behind, underfunded and politically weak. Now we're moving in from the suburbs to take the last of what is worth anything in the cities from people who are just doing what they can to get by.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is alot being said on both sides of this issue, but I saw the NOW PBS special as well, and it was frightening, because they were talking about areas that were NOT in any way blighted (long Branch, NJ)... they were full of well-kept one family homes. The city was broke, and just wanted more expensive, denser (and more bland) condo developments for the wealthy from NYC. If a broke city can use Eminent Domain to give expensive housing to the rich and use "the public good" as the reason, then bix boxes aren't what we have to worry about. Becomming a bedroom community for more wealthy Bostonains and the like is way more likely. Providence is broke too. Imagine tearing down half of Fed Hill for expensive condo towers in the name of the public good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, its not that surprising a decision.

The Supreme Court was merely affirming the long-standing power of local government to have the power to take private property by eminent domain. This really wasn't anything new.

One of the fundemental powers of local government has always been eminent domain, and while it has been in some cases abused, it remains an important tool for local government to have in order for cities to change and grow in the ways they need to.

On this specific case in New London, I was also sort of shocked that the Supreme Court ruled this way, but looking more at the broader view, the Court was just sticking with the status quo and chose not to radically alter a long-standing right of local government, which would have opened up a much much bigger can of worms.

Oh yeah, and there isn't too much to worry about in Providence regarding the taking of private property. I have been told by high-ranking officials that the city is very much out of the business of taking property except in extreme cases, especially with the market hot as it is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Supreme Court was merely affirming the long-standing power of local government to have the power to take private property by eminent domain. This really wasn't anything new.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I agree, as chilling as the ruling may seem, I think in reading the 5th Ammendment, there is nothing that defines what the public good is. Takings for highways, as an example, were not considered when the Constitution was written. It's up to the states to decide what the public good is, and I think it would be over reaching of the court to make a ruling on what is fundamentally a states-rights issue.

And there would be a big can of worms if the court had ruled differently, would people whose property was taken for economic development then have the right to sue? Think of everyone in the former West End of Boston suddenly able to sue, Boston would be bankrupted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, as chilling as the ruling may seem, I think in reading the 5th Ammendment, there is nothing that defines what the public good is. Takings for highways, as an example, were not considered when the Constitution was written. It's up to the states to decide what the public good is, and I think it would be over reaching of the court to make a ruling on what is fundamentally a states-rights issue.

And there would be a big can of worms if the court had ruled differently, would people whose property was taken for economic development then have the right to sue? Think of everyone in the former West End of Boston suddenly able to sue, Boston would be bankrupted.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Wow... I just don't understand how people could not be enraged by this.. And it wasn't some long standing rule.. Public good may be vague, but now its universally accepted that the state can take your land. For any reason.. Without personal land ownership, we are a communist state..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow... I just don't understand how people could not be enraged by this.. And it wasn't some long standing rule.. Public good may be vague, but now its universally accepted that the state can take your land. For any reason.. Without personal land ownership, we are a communist state..

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I'm not all that enraged... I'm one of those odd left-leaning folks who thinks that, in quite a few respects in society, our culture has veered too much towards individual rights and too far away from the general good. People are living to an average of near 85 years old right now... Should a suffering city like New London be held hostage in revitalization by just 3 or 4 people after a few dozen have agreed to move?

- Garris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not all that enraged...  I'm one of those odd left-leaning folks who thinks that, in quite a few respects in society, our culture has veered too much towards individual rights and too far away from the general good.  People are living to an average of near 85 years old right now...  Should a suffering city like New London be held hostage in revitalization by just 3 or 4 people after a few dozen have agreed to move?

- Garris

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I agree that our society is a bit too individual-centric.. But I disagree on the "public good" part..

The gov needs their hands in everything.. I just don't feel that the governement knows better than individuals in any situation.. I am trying to come up with one, and I just can't.. And I think the reason is.. The Gov doesn't have to pay the piper if they screw up.. Individuals do.. In my opinion, everything the Gov does is done inefficiently and carelessly.. If you need an example, just check out the ED that was done for our lovely highways system in RI (195,95,6,10)..

I understand this project may bring tax rolls to New London.. I understand revitalization, believe me... But in no way, not one single situation should someone who OWNS LAND be displaced at the whim of the State.. Never.. Its their land..

Eminent domain is an evil gov tool.. Sorry for the rant..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But in no way, not one single situation should someone who OWNS LAND be displaced at the whim of the State.. Never.. Its their land..

Eminent domain is an evil gov tool.. Sorry for the rant..

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

What about worthwhile projects that really will serve the public good though? Where/how can they be built?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about worthwhile projects that really will serve the public good though?  Where/how can they be built?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I don't know.. I guess alternate sites.. Or make the people who are holding down an offer they absolutely can't refuse.. Pay them for their memories, not just the assessed value of their home.. The State lowballs these prop owners, its almost criminal.. Or build them a home near by at no cost to them... Kind of like a severence package.. :) By getting the people to agree and move on good terms accomplishes what ED wanted by adding to the rolls and not displacing residents, so to speak.. And if they won't move for any reason and are being unreasonable.. That is their right.. Find another site..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know.. I guess alternate sites.. Or make the people who are holding down an offer they absolutely can't refuse.. Pay them for their memories, not just the assessed value of their home.. The State lowballs these prop owners, its almost criminal.. Or build them a home near by at no cost to them... Kind of like a severence package..  :)  By getting the people to agree and move on good terms accomplishes what ED wanted by adding to the rolls and not displacing residents, so to speak.. And if they won't move for any reason and are being unreasonable.. That is their right.. Find another site..

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

What you propose here is what already happens in 99% of cases. Its not like people are getting kicked off their land with NO compensation. That is expressly NOT a part of eminent domain, or any other land use law, for that matter. Eminent domain is only used as an absolute last resort. Local governments have learned a great deal since the misguided plans of the 50's and 60's (slum clearance and interstate highways), and most property owners are bought out at levels well above fair market, not assessed values.

Take TF Green Airport for example. Hundreds of property owners have been bought out of their property in the high-noise contours at attractive prices, and none were taken by eminent domain. But the power to take land by eminent domain remains as an important tool IF NECESSARY. Believe me, the last thing any government wants to do is start getting into ED disputes, as they get very expensive.

One other point - the recent Supreme Court decision does not preclude suits brought on value of eminent domain takings. If the value offered is too low, property owners can surely bring suits based on just compensation. And when they do, they often times win. A parcel taken as part of the Big Dig ended up costing huge amounts of money as part of this process.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What you propose here is what already happens in 99% of cases. Its not like people are getting kicked off their land with NO compensation. That is expressly NOT a part of eminent domain, or any other land use law, for that matter. Eminent domain is only used as an absolute last resort. Local governments have learned a great deal since the misguided plans of the 50's and 60's (slum clearance and interstate highways), and most property owners are bought out at levels well above fair market, not assessed values.

Take TF Green Airport for example. Hundreds of property owners have been bought out of their property in the high-noise contours at attractive prices, and none were taken by eminent domain. But the power to take land by eminent domain remains as an important tool IF NECESSARY.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I am sure they get compensated. But not market value and certainly not emotional value.. And the attitude is "we are the gov, you don't like it, sue us"... To put that in perspective, the assessed value of a 3 family I own is 179k, whereas the market value is probably ~300k..

If you want a good example of the gov screwing people with ED, check out this:

http://www.bushfiles.com/bushfiles/SweetheartDeal.html

Hey, I'm not saying it happens all the time, but it happens..

Not that I consider this a left/right issue, its more of a libertarian issue.. But I am surprised the liberals in here aren't siding with the displaced people.. Its odd to me that big corporations and/or wealthy residents displacing people and altering their livelihood is catastrophic, but if the government does it its ok.. Just doesn't add up..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow.

Thats the most assinine load of crap I've ever read...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes, a hotel on a dead end street in the middle of nowhere will be a great economic generator for Weare. Nice publicity stunt though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.