Maplewood Property Owners Continue Fight Against Eminent Domain: KSDK TV5 (St Louis MO), 7/14/05

By Erin O'Neill

Imagine owning your home for years, then one day someone comes along and says you have to sell it. Why? Because a developer wants to build something better in its place. It's called eminent domain and it's happening to property owners in Maplewood.

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled five to four local governments can seize property for private development. Since that ruling, many property owners, like Patricia Trout of Maplewood, are trying to prevent it from happening to them.

"We have spent a lot of time and money fixing it." Trout has lived in the same home on the 4700 block of Hazel for 50 years. "We both graduated from the school district and all of our children did so we have deep roots here and I have my business in my home."

Now Trout may have to move her business and her home. Several developers want her property and the other homes on her side of the street to make way for something better. "It's just very unsettling."

They city is accepting proposals from developers until July 29th. Maplewood City Councilman, Tim Dunn, "In terms of the 29th, we get the proposals in then we'll have to talk about you know what are the scopes of the different proposals."

Then the city council must decide if one is worth knocking down homes and businesses. Dunn says, "I think at that point a city has an obligation to the community to move ahead and if that means eminent domain I think that's a proper use of eminent domain."

Trout is one of several hundred Maplewood residents and business owners who attended a meeting on eminent domain Tuesday night. Trout says they were hoping for answers, but she says that didn't happen. "We've heard conflicting things. Oh they're not going to take your home. Well they might and don't worry about it. You just don't know what."

But Trout does know the the fight isn't over yet. "We may have to wait but we're not just sitting around."

When city council votes on the proposals only a simple majority vote is needed. Meantime, Governor Matt Blunt is forming a task force to study eminent domain laws and recommend ways to protect missouri property owners.

KSDK: www.ksdk.com