Family’s home in jeopardy in domain battle: Gwinnett (County GA) Daily Post, 7/13/05

By Christy Smith

Georgia cities and counties can exercise eminent domain to condemn property and purchase it for reasons that would be beneficial to the public’s general well-being, such as for road improvements, transportation systems, or a dam to stop spring floods.

The Georgia Constitution defines these privileges.

Buford City Commissioners on Monday voted to begin proceedings in Gwinnett County Superior Court to condemn property at 608 Sawnee Ave. for road improvements.

The property is owned by William T. Yancy, who has operated his business, Yancy Rebuild Service, on the site for 22 years. Yancy rebuilds automotive starters and alternators, and he and his wife live in an apartment in his shop. Several buildings stand on the acreage that are 40 to 60 years old, said Yancy.

Buford city officials have offered to buy the property from Yancy.

“I can’t divulge their price right now, but it’s not enough,” Yancy said.

Yancy is being represented by Attorney Gibson Dean, and he says he is prepared for a court battle. If Buford acquires the property, it will remain as greenspace for the time being, Commissioner Michael Smith said.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled to expand the use of eminent domain in the Kelo v. City of New London, Conn., case that allows the city to seize private land for a development of offices, a hotel and conference center.

The Georgia Senate recently examined two house bills regarding eminent domain. Georgia Senate Bill 86, authored by Sen. Jeff Chapman, District 3, passed the Senate in 2005 on a 40-10 vote. It would prohibit using eminent domain for economic development purposes. The House could vote on it next year. SB 30 would have required governments to hold a hearing for condemnation when zoning and land-use decisions affect a property’s use. It did not pass the Senate in 2005.

Several Georgia property owners are fighting the use of eminent domain. Stockbridge Florist and Gifts Inc. is facing condemnation that allows Stockbridge to proceed with its urban redevelopment plan.

Gwinnett Daily Post: www.gwinnettdailypost.com