8/12/2005

Business Owner Fights Eminent Domain For His Business: WGAL-TV8 (Lancaster PA), 8/9/05

A Dauphin County business owner is fighting for his livelihood.

Stanford Cramer said a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year may clear the way for his business to be taken by eminent domain.

Each year, Cramer's Airport Parking serves more than 50,000 people from its location near Harrisburg International Airport, but the parking lot may not be in business much longer.

The Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority, which runs HIA, wants to take the parking lot by eminent domain.

"A few years ago, the words eminent domain had no real significance," Cramer said.

Cramer owns the parking lot and he's taking his fight to keep it to the state Capitol, testifying before the House State Government Committee.

Cramer wants to see House bills 1835 and 1836 passed. Each would limit the power of eminent domain.

"Sadly, I now know that the government, or in our case, a quasi-government authority, can take away someone's property for far less noble reasons. Now I know more than I ever wanted to about the eminent domain process," Cramer said.

State Rep. Tom Yewcic, of Somerset County, introduced the bills in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to broaden the uses of eminent domain.

"It's always been thought that public uses was a reference to roads, bridges, courthouses and prisons. Today, it can mean casinos, condos or other private interests," Yewcic said.

York Mayor John Brenner, who also testified, wants legislators to proceed with caution.

He said limiting eminent domain limits revitalization.

"Cities cannot afford to lose this last resort and sometimes only option to proceeding with redevelopment." Brenner said.

As for Cramer, the bills going through the Legislature may not be a help in his case, but he said he'll keep fighting.

The airport is not saying why it wants the land.

Cramer said HIA already seized 5 acres of his land by eminent domain back in 2001.


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