Court must limit eminent domain — York (PA) Daily Record, 10/28/04

Letter to the Editor

By Larry Aiken, Hellam Township

I am pleased to hear that the high court is going to hear a case involving eminent domain. There is hope that they can remind our government that it exists for the protection of the people and their property, not that the people and their property exist to benefit the government.

Homeowners in New London, Conn., are trying to save their homes from being taken for a riverfront hotel, health club and offices. The city officials said it's in the people's interest because it would bring in more money for the town. Using that criteria, if you own valuable land, the government can feel justified in taking it from you and giving it to someone else simply because that someone else may be able to give the government more money than you would.

In our own area, since 1999 the City of Coatesville has been trying to use eminent domain to take the Saha farm, which is located outside of the city and, I would have thought, their jurisdiction. All this effort is to build a municipal golf course and golf-related facilities (real essential services).

Locally, we have York County working on behalf of the Lancaster-York Heritage Region headed by the brother of our U.S. Rep. Todd Platts and with a county commissioner sitting on their board trying to take away the farm, homes and livelihood of the Kohr families to put in a park (real essential services).

So I guess the lesson we learned here is that if you don't own something but want it and the people who do own it won't give it to you — cozy up to all the highest government officials you can.

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