Commission resolution opposes eminent domain: Rapid City (SD) Journal, 8/17/05

By Scott Aust

The Pennington County Commission on Tuesday approved a resolution in support of protecting private property rights.

Based on a similar resolution approved by the Sully County Commission, the resolution states that the commission believes the original concept of the framers of the Constitution was to use the power of eminent domain "only as a last resort to acquire private property for a public project and that any such public project can be demonstrated to be necessary to accomplish the general welfare of the citizens."

The move is a reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that local governments can seize people's homes and businesses and give the property to private developers for economic development projects.

The 5-4 decision expanded local governments' ability to take property for public purposes under eminent domain.

In late June, the county commission vowed never to take private property to benefit private developers but didn't take a vote.

The resolution approved Tuesday states that any departure from the original principle of eminent domain is an "assault on our basic foundations of liberty and a threat to the rights of private property ownership."

The resolution urges the state Legislature to use all means necessary to strengthen the original purpose of the rights of eminent domain within the state constitution.

"As you know, there's probably a move on by legislators to pass a law in the state that would restrict, once and for all, the eminent domain principles," Ron Buskerud, administrative assistant, said. "This would be affirmation by the commission that the Legislature should go ahead and do something like that."

Rapid City Journal: www.rapidcityjournal.com