BNA to host audio conference on 9/27

BNA Inc, will host a 90-minute audioconference exploring implications of Kelo v. City of New London on September 27 2005. BNA is a publisher of news, analysis, and reference products, providing intensive coverage of legal and regulatory developments for professionals in business and government.

The program will feature a panel of senior attorneys representing local government, private property owners, and property developers. Participants will provide commentary and perspective on current eminent domain practices across the United States and the likely repercussions of the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. City of New London on brownfields redevelopment.

Panelists include:
  • Richard Opper - Partner, Opper & Varco LLP (San Diego CA)
  • Mary Massaron Ross - Partner, Plunkett & Cooney (Detroit MI)
  • Barry Trilling - Partner, Wiggin & Dana LLP (Stamford CT)

For more information or to register, call 888-605-5063 or visit

Roberts Frustrates Committee Democrats: Washington (DC) Post, 9/15/05

GOP Optimistic On Confirmation
(excerpt of eminent domain testimony, from longer report)

By Charles Babington and Jo Becker


Roberts testified that he believes it would be "very appropriate" for Congress and state legislatures to consider legislation to effectively modify a recent Supreme Court ruling that expanded the right of local governments to force the sale of private property in the name of economic development. "What the court was saying is 'There is this power' and then it's up to the legislature to determine whether it wants that to be available," Roberts said. "You can protect" people's rights, he added.

The Washington Post: www.washingtonpost.com


Officials ask public to weigh in on eminent domain: The Roanoke (VA) Times , 9/13/05

Some groups fear a recent ruling could give the government the right to forcibly take your land to build shopping malls

By Todd Jackson

The debate over a U.S. Supreme Court decision on governmental taking of private property comes to Roanoke on Wednesday.

A Virginia Housing Commission subgroup that studies eminent domain issues will meet at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center at 3 p.m., and the Supreme Court's Kelo v. City of New London ruling is likely to be the main topic of discussion.

Federal, state and local governments always have had authority to take private land with "just" compensation for public needs such as schools, utilities, hospitals and roads - the process known as eminent domain.

The 5-4 Supreme Court decision issued in June gave New London, Conn., the power to seize property for economic development reasons. In Kelo, the court ruled that the economically depressed Connecticut locality could use eminent domain to acquire privately owned land that it would then turn over to a private developer. The basis for invoking eminent domain in the case was the city's belief that the new development would generate more jobs and tax revenue - facts it produced in a predetermined revitalization plan.

The ruling sent shock waves through property rights' groups. They fear it goes too far and could give governments the go-ahead to use their eminent domain powers to take privately owned homes so a strip mall or a Wal-Mart could be built.

So disturbed by the Supreme Court decision was the Patrick County Board of Supervisors that it recently became the first local government in the state to react by adopting new, binding guidelines on its own local eminent domain powers. In Patrick County now, the government can't take private land and then transfer it to another private interest "for any purpose."

Also, if the Patrick County government does use its condemnation powers, it will pay all the related costs, and also will pay 3 percent interest, per month compounded, if it doesn't pay an affected property owner within 60 days of the termination of a trial.

Meanwhile, some Virginia governmental leaders have criticized the opposition to Kelo, saying it's a knee-jerk, emotional reaction - perpetuated by politicians and the media - to a decision that will allow New London to pursue needed improvements under a well-devised plan.

"Whoa, Nellie. Is all this hot rhetoric and political reaction justified by the facts of the situation?" wrote Roanoke City Councilman Rupert Cutler in an August opinion piece published in The Roanoke Times. "Let's look deeper. Does objective analysis of the Kelo opinion support the extremely agitated reaction it has been accorded?"

Also, the Virginia First Cities Coalition - a group of the state's largest urban areas - is cautioning state legislators not to go too far in response to Kelo and make changes that could hamper redevelopment opportunities in land-locked Virginia cities.

Del. Terrie Suit, R-Virginia Beach, chairs the state subgroup, which is made up of legislators and citizens. Suit said it's her goal to hear from all sectors of the Kelo-related debate, including during Wednesday's meeting. From there, Suit's group would forward its recommendations to the full Virginia Housing Commission, which could then pass them on to the General Assembly.

Suit said she believes many involved in the debate see the Housing Commission as a "place of reason."

The state legislature does need to address issues brought to the forefront by the Kelo decision in some way, she said. While existing litigated case law in Virginia is generally not friendly to the Kelo ruling, Suit said the state has no statute that definitively defines the acceptable public uses for government to invoke eminent domain.

"On an issue as volatile as this," she said, "you should have solid statutory language."

Roanoke Times: www.roanoke.com

Initiative would restrict forced sales of property to government: (Fargo ND) In-Forum, 9/13/05

Associated Press

North Dakota's state and local governments would be barred from seizing private property for economic development projects under a constitutional initiative that has been submitted for review.

It represents a joint effort involving a property rights group, called the Landowners Association of North Dakota, and former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, who had been preparing a separate initiative.

It would add two sentences to the North Dakota Constitution to limit government power to take private property to circumstances when it is needed to build streets, sewers, utility lines and other public works.

Property Right Initiative
"It was to everyone's best interest if we just sat down and said, 'What are we really trying to accomplish? What's the purpose?'" Heitkamp said. "We realized we had a complete meeting of the minds about what we wanted to do."

The proposal was inspired by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, handed down in June, in which the justices ruled in favor of a Connecticut city that wanted to force a group of residents to sell their homes and land to make way for a luxury waterfront development.

Litchville farmer Don Berge, who is chairman of the initiative campaign and president of the Landowners Association of North Dakota, said property rights supporters need to ensure that North Dakota governments aren't allowed to take property to benefit other private interests.

"A homeowner that is paying their taxes — law-abiding citizens — I don't feel that you can go in and take their property just because there's an economic benefit for local government, that they can possibly make more taxes off of a new building," Berge said. "That is basically wrong. It's morally wrong."

Berge and a group of amendment supporters delivered their proposed amendment language to Secretary of State Al Jaeger's office on Monday.

Jaeger and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem have the responsibility of reviewing the petition's form and drafting a short explanation of what the amendment does. They are not allowed to revise its contents. The measure should be ready for circulation late this month.

Connie Sprynczynatyk, director of the North Dakota League of Cities, and Mark Johnson, director of the state Association of Counties, said they expect discussions of the issue at the annual meetings of their respective groups.

The League of Cities is holding its annual meeting next week in Fargo, while the county association's gathering is scheduled next month in Bismarck.

Johnson said county officials are sensitive to property rights issues.

"Local government doesn't want to lose its authority to take property for a public purpose, such as roads or water lines," Johnson said. "But they are very much opposed to taking it for purely economic development purposes."

The landowners' group initially drafted a much longer constitutional initiative. Berge said the finished product resulted from consultations with legislators, activists and people with experience in initiative and referendum campaigns.

"With any initiated measure, the shorter, the better," Berge said. "I think it gets more succinct. People are more able to grasp what you're trying to do. The purpose is the same."

Among the 32 members of the initiative's sponsoring committee are Heitkamp; her brother, state Sen. Joel Heitkamp, D-Hankinson; state Sens. April Fairfield, D-Eldridge, and Aaron Krauter, D-Regent; and Republican state Rep. Charles Damschen of Hampden.

Curly Haugland, a Bismarck businessman and former state Republican chairman, and Tom Dickson, a Bismarck attorney and former Democratic chairman, are sponsors.

Charlene Nelson of Casselton, who helped lead a referendum campaign against weakening North Dakota bank privacy law three years ago, is a sponsor, as are Glen Baltrusch of Harvey, a Reform Party activist, and Ralph Muecke of Gladstone, a veteran of several initiative and referendum campaigns.

Berge said the initiative campaign will use the name C-RED, for Citizens Restricting Eminent Domain. "I guess whenever you have the potential for wrong, I think you have to step out in front and head it off," he said. "If this happened in Connecticut, why can't it happen here?"

In-Forum: www.in-forum.com

Church wants immigrant's property, cites eminent domain: RenewAmerica, 9/13/05

Three Letters

By Matt C. Abbott

Cheng Tan of Jersey City, NJ, recently wrote the following letter to Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark (edited)

"Dear Archbishop Myers,

"It is with great hesitation and trepidation that I am writing this letter to your attention.

"The recent events that have taken place in America — the delayed rescue actions in the Louisiana floods and the recent Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain, Kelo v. New London — makes me wonder whether the America I have known and respected is still the same country.

"In the latter subject matter, many legal minds are disturbed and have questioned the wisdom of that decision whereby the court has ruled that taking of private property for another private party is deemed legal. Many feel the court has erred and has violated the rights of citizens and the fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

"As an Asian immigrant to the U.S. more than 30 years ago, I too had the benefit of a good Catholic education by the La Sallian Brothers in Malaysia, and I am proud of it. This is one reason I can pen this letter of appeal to your kindness in English with sufficient clarity.

"The reason for this letter is that one of the parishes under your jurisdiction, Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, in collusion with St. Peter's Prep School, has made use of the powerful eminent domain laws to seize my property for their own benefit. My property is across the street from the Church's property on Grand Street, Jersey City.

"They argue that a greater public good would be served by their actions. Unfortunately, any action, even if on the surface appears to be for the public good, cannot be deemed acceptable if, in the eyes of God, it was done with unclean hands or motive.

"This conspiracy using one of the city's governing bodies, the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency, to get the dirty job done through politically connected individuals, most of whom are alumni of Saint Peter's Prep, makes me very sad.

"In my opinion, these individuals, in their quest to show the community that they are contributing to the public good, have not benefited from the very Catholic education they have received from one of your schools. Greed, ego and ... material wealth have overpowered them. The Waterfront in Jersey City is a hotbed of real estate development, land grabbing is happening all around and your parish's involvement is no exception.

"If this is the America of the future, I certainly do not want my children to be part of it.

"Since this is happening under your jurisdiction, I believe you have the power to check this abuse. I therefore appeal to you for help from a moral rather than from a legal position.

"The Supreme Court, when it ruled on the Kelo case, said that the states should be legislating laws to curb such abuses and not the court. This seems to contradict the very essence of the Bill of Rights which was enacted to protect the citizens from the abuse of state powers. The Constitution that the Founding Fathers have established is now in danger of being corrupted, and your action or inaction can help preserve or hasten its deterioration....

"...In my situation, time is not on my side. The city has already seized title to my property on behalf of the church, and with the law as they stand unchanged, the court will rule in favor of the plaintiff in most cases. This property, which I and my wife have struggled, worked hard, saved and hope to enjoy for our retirement, is now in danger of being taken by your church against my will.

"A hearing date has been set for September 23 in the State Superior Court to have my case heard. As I have indicated, I am not too optimistic about the outcome since my attorney has said that unless I am financially wealthy and politically connected, I do not stand a chance to win.

"I am therefore appealing to your kindness and interest in moral justice to intervene, right this wrong and not let it be said the Church has allowed one of its own to be involved in an immoral act....

"I have the complete case history of events where OLC/St. Peter's Prep were involved and it goes way back to July 1999. Due to the stress and uncertainty we went through, my wife fell ill and succumbed to her illness last year. She could not believe a church, a representative of the Catholic Church, could do such a thing.

"Hopefully I look forward to hearing from your office and perhaps something positive can be worked out for the betterment of everyone."

James Goodness, communications director for the Archdiocese of Newark, had this response to Tan's letter

"From what I have been able to determine, the City of Jersey City and St. Peter's Prep, a private Catholic school owned and operated by the Jesuits in Jersey City (not by the Archdiocese), have been involved in this effort.

"The parish listed in the letter, Our Lady of Czestochowa, which is a diocesan parish, is not a party in the effort. OLC merely uses the St. Peter's property on occasion. It does not own the property — St Peter's Prep does — and will not benefit financially from any real estate transaction involving Mr. Tan's property.

"What appears to have happened is that Mr. Tan mistakenly — it can often happen — assumes that every Catholic institution or organization is part of the Archdiocese.

"Our Vicar General, Msgr. Robert Emery, has written to Mr. Tan explaining that the Archdiocese is not looking to take over his property.

"As I understand it, Jersey City has zoned the two properties — both Mr. Tan's and the St. Peter's property — as Greenfields properties, which indicates that they can be used only for certain purposes, such as the sports fields that the City and St. Peter's are intending to create."

Tan's response to Goodness's statement was this (edited)

"This is getting very interesting. Mr. Goodness is either receiving information through hearsay or he is not getting the facts straight.

"According to legal papers that I have checked, St. Peter's Prep Athletic Foundation, Inc., is the applicant of the site plan review when it was originally filed on January 7, 2003. Fr. Tom Ivanowski of OLC was also one of the signatories. He may have been removed from the scene for obvious reasons.

"It is formed from a partnership whereby OLC, St Peter's Prep and another invisible entity hold a 10 percent interest in the corporation. The disclosure statement regarding the ten percent ownership of this non-profit corporation was not available when I tried to find out who it was. At the time when the application for site plan was made, OLC was definitely listed as having part ownership of this corporation....

"Also, during the redevelopment plan hearings, nothing was mentioned about 'Greenfields.' What about all the other properties within the development? Every other property owner was accommodated to minimize any opposition to the plan. I was the only one who raised an objection.

"Also, in the site plans hearings, the St. Peter's Prep' attorney specifically said he has no use for my property when I raised my concern. It looks like someone is back peddling here after they got their approvals.

"The bottom line is they want my property but do not want to pay market value for it so they use eminent domain and all these 'sleight of hands' techniques.

"Also, in 1999, when I objected to the redevelopment plan, Fr. Tom of OLC offered to swap one of their Sussex street properties for mine and I rejected his offer."

RenewAmerica: www.renewamerica.us

City looks at eminent domain: The Voice of San Diego (CA), 9/13/05

This land is my land
By Andrew Donohue

City Councilwoman and mayoral hopeful Donna Frye pushed the issue of eminent domain abuse into the forefront of the city's business and the mayoral campaign Monday, urging the city to reconsider policies that she says put the profit of a few ahead of the interests of home owners and small business owners.

First in a morning committee hearing and later at a press conference hosted by her mayoral campaign, Frye joined a growing chorus nationwide questioning how eminent domain is used in seizing private land.

The Government Efficiency and Openness Committee, chaired by Frye, heard the pros and cons of the history of redevelopment law Monday morning. The committee then recommended that the full City Council limit the government's ability to take property and adopt other policies that protect and better inform property owners of their rights.

"The simplest way to discuss this with the public is to say to them that the public has a right to feel safe … that their businesses and their homes will not be taken by government and handed over to another private property owner for profit," Frye said.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the city of New London, Conn., in the landmark Kelo case, which allowed governments to seize private land that is deemed "blighted" and give it to another private entity or landowner if the transfer is found to be in the public's best interest.

However, the ruling did leave open the possibility for local governments to craft their own laws in regards to eminent domain. Efforts in the state Legislature to tailor the state's laws have to date failed, prompting Frye to review the city's policies.

The issue has hit home locally. Ahmed Mesdaq, owner of the Gran Havana Cigar and Coffee Lounge, recently lost his battle with the city. Shortly after remodeling his café in the Gaslamp Quarter, the Afghani immigrant was informed that the city would be seizing his land in order to make way for a Marriott Renaissance Hotel that will bring more tax revenue into city coffers. He quit his legal battle against the seizure in June, saying he was exhausted physically and financially.

A redevelopment project in City Heights has also raised the ire of local property owners and opponents of current redevelopment policies. Jody Carey and Dennis Wood say they bought and remodeled a home there in early 2004, only to find out later that year that their property could be seized and passed along to a private developer to build condominiums.

The Encinitas City Council in July voted to limit its ability to seize private land.

Redevelopment officials defended their work at the hearing, saying that between 80 and 90 percent of all properties are acquired through friendly negotiations and not eminent domain.

A spokesman from the Jerry Sanders' campaign said that the former police chief, Frye's opponent in the November runoff election, believes that eminent domain is an important tool in redevelopment. However, the spokesman said, Sanders also believes that officials have abused a loose definition of the term "blighted."

The council committee recommended Thursday that the full City Council: do away with its powers of eminent domain; monitor negotiations with a third party mediator to ensure that property owners aren't threatened or intimidated; enact strict guidelines for developers to meet before using eminent domain; make sure that property owners receive just compensation; and require that negotiations be made public record.

She said she hopes to see full council action within 30 to 60 days.

The Voice of San Diego: www.voiceofsandiego.org

Winners of eminent domain case order residents out: (Long Island NY) Newsday, 9/13/05

By John Christoffersen, Associated Press

The New London agency that won a U.S. Supreme Court victory allowing it to seize property for private development is telling residents to vacate the homes, reigniting a controversy that has spread across the country.

A group representing the home owners accused the quasi-public New London Development Corp. of reneging on a promise not to seize the properties while lawmakers considered changing the state's eminent domain laws. State House Minority Leader Robert Ward, a Republican, called for a special session to enact a moratorium on property seizures, while the homeowners vowed to continue fighting.

"We're not going nowhere," said Michael Cristofaro, who received one of the notices. "They're going to have to pry my cold fingers from the house."

The notices order the property owners and tenants to vacate within 30 to 90 days and start paying rent to the NLDC during that period, according to the Institute for Justice, a Washington-based group representing the homeowners.

If residents do not comply, the agency has the option of pursuing an eviction in court, but officials said they hope to resolve the cases without taking that step.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June that New London could take homes in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood to build a privately owned hotel and office space. The court also said states are free to ban the taking of property for such projects.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell and state lawmakers urged local governments to refrain from seizing property for private development until they decide whether to change the state's eminent domain laws. Rell also favors a special session to deal with the issue, said spokesman Judd Everhart.

"It was the governor's desire that a moratorium be imposed and she believes this action violates the spirit of the call for a moratorium," Everhart said.

The NLDC said it agreed in July to a voluntary moratorium on new eminent domain takings. The agency said it reserved its rights to act in the best interests of the taxpayers of New London on the land it acquired five years ago through eminent domain.

"Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that all our actions were done in accordance with appropriate Connecticut and federal law, and all appeals have been exhausted, we intend to implement this ruling in a fair and reasonable manner," Michael Joplin, president of NLDC, said in a statement. "It's time to move forward for the benefit of all the citizens of New London and begin the transformation of the Fort Trumbull area."

Scott Bullock, a senior attorney at the Institute For Justice, accused the agency of lying.

"They had agreed explicitly that they would not move forward with these condemnations," Bullock said. "They don't have any new condemnations."

One NLDC notice demands the owner to pay $600 per month in "occupancy payments" and told to vacate in 90 days, while another owner was given 30 days to leave, the group said.

Richard Beyer, whose tenant received a notice, also vowed to fight.

"Those guys are crazy," Beyer said.

The agency, which said it sent out five notices this week, promised to work with the property owners to determine their qualification for financial relocation assistance and help them find replacement housing. NLDC said the project will provide jobs, increased tax revenue, the clean-up of toxic sites and public access to the Thames River.

"The NLDC's actions are breathtaking in their arrogance and defiance of the wishes of Governor Rell and Connecticut's legislature," said Bullock. "The NLDC is an unelected, unaccountable body that has been given the government's eminent domain power and is out of control."

Because the state had previously sanctioned the city's use of eminent domain for Fort Trumbull, it was unclear whether lawmakers could make New London delay its plans.

Patrick Scully, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, cast doubt on the prospects for a special session.

"The quick fix is often a bad fix," Scully said.

Newsday: www.newsday.com

Eminent Domain in Neptune, N.J. — A vision for West Lake Avenue: New Jersey Eminent Domain Blog, 9/12/05

By William Ward

“I just can’t believe they’re going to go ahead and tear down a building that the township has funded through the whole process. We were told when we bought it, that if we redid it, it would be a blessing and the best thing that ever happened, and then they’re telling us to get lawyers.” – Lester Goldberg, owner of Scrubber Doctor

West Lake Avenue is one section of Neptune Township located off Route 35 which is now threatened by eminent domain. The area is mostly single family residential, some commercial, and overwhelmingly African American. If these eminent domain cases are filed and the right to take is upheld, it will result in the wholesale displacement of an established and vibrant community.

Clara’s Place is one of the businesses threatened. It is a busy restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s been there on West Lake Avenue for many years. It is one of those places that is the focal point of a neighborhood. People come in, eat, and catch up on the news of the day.

Betty Gainey lives across the street from Clara’s. Her single family residential house is as neat as a pin with roses growing along a fence in the front yard and lovely gardens in the back. Yet she too may have to leave if the political powers continue their redevelopment efforts and acquisition of properties through eminent domain proceedings.

These buildings are definitely not “blighted” — but some expert hired by Neptune Township has said, and the township has agreed, that they are in an “area in need of redevelopment.”

This is a crooked game. Rob the poor, give the property to the rich, and move the people out! New Jersey, and indeed the United States of America, has to step back from this scenario or it will pay a steep price. The mood on the street is angry, and it’s not just Neptune Township, Asbury Park or Long Branch. A total of 64 municipalities in New Jersey have declared "areas in need of redevelopment" in their towns.

The politicians in Neptune and Long Branch are deaf to the pleas of the homeowners and small businesses. The same day we met with Neptune property owners, members of the New Jersey assembly were posing with Lester Goldberg, the owner of Scrubber Doctor, a janitorial equipment and supply company. Goldberg is now threatened with eminent domain by the township of Neptune.

In January 2004, Goldberg and his wife purchased the building and the property wasn’t in the plan. But it is now. On August 24, Lester and his wife attended a meeting when Neptune officials and architects unveiled their redevelopment plan only to discover that their property would be torn down.

Goldberg invested $200,000 of his own funds in improving his building, a 6000 square foot office-warehouse distribution complex located on six-tenths of an acre on Route 35. The irony is that the township encouraged Mr. Goldberg to make this investment by giving him a UDAC loan, façade loan, façade and landscaping grants, and are now threatening to take the property on behalf of the designated redeveloper, CityWorks West Lake LLC. Goldberg intends to vigorously oppose the acquisition of his property by Neptune Township.

The press statements from Republican Assemblyman Sean Kean and Steven Corodemus as well as Democrats Jim Reilly and Mathhew Doherty are typical of what every politician is currently saying prior to the November elections. They are against using eminent domain to acquire single family, owner occupied residential homes. They miss the big picture. “I don’t believe in every case eminent domain in a residential situation should be banned,” Kean said. “In those areas that are blighted, I think that is a positive thing.” (9/9/05)

It’s not just the residential home owner that is affected; there are numerous tenants who are dislocated, there are many small businesses that are put out of business. The Local Redevelopment Housing Law is being misused. The original Neptune Strategic Revitalization Plan blighted over 1,200 homes, small businesses, and churches covering most of the Midtown, Bradley Park, and Shark River neighborhoods of Neptune Township.

Two months ago, a township-owned building on West Lake Avenue was demolished to jump-start the project. The Asbury Park Press reported that Gail Oliver, president of Midtown Urban Renaissance Corporation (MURC) and a resident of West Lake Avenue, said the demolition ended more than three decades of neglect and complacency. MURC was formed several years ago by residents who partner with CityWorks, the project’s developer. Neighbors United, another group of Neptune citizens, opposes the use of eminent domain by the town.

When the announcement of the original project resulted in massive protest, Neptune Township decided to tackle its redevelopment piecemeal, chipping away at the opposition by including some property owners in coalition with the redeveloper. They further diffuse the opponents to the project by covering it with a veneer of community cooperation and benefit. The benefits flow only to a few, and the majority will be acquired and dislocated.

We’ve gone from “blight” to “area in need of redevelopment” and our courts have said that it is a distinction without a difference.

We further conclude that the terms "blighted area," as used in N.J. Const., Art. VIII, § 3, ¶ 1, and "an area in need of redevelopment," as used in the LRHL, are synonymous. Therefore, the designation of an area in need of redevelopment under the LRHL is the equivalent of a blight designation.

New Jersey Eminent Domain Blog: www.njeminentdomain.com

William Ward is an attorney with Carlin & Ward

State out to stop property seizure: (Lee County FL) News-Press, 9/13/05

Florida lawmakers hope to tighten rules

By Paige St John and Aaron deslatte

Florida lawmakers want to make it harder to seize private property for economic development.

A House committee run by Rep. Marco Rubio is considering amending Florida's definitions of words such as "blighted" and "slum" to make it tougher to condemn private property.

Such a move would go a long way to appease private property rights activists unsettled by this summer's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that expanded government's ability to condemn property for redevelopment.

But it concerns planners who say the power is an important tool to address specific needs.

The high court ruled the city of New London, Conn., could lawfully seize private property from residents who refused to sell and turn it over to private developers.

Rubio's Select Committee to Protect Private Property Rights meets Wednesday. Among its members are Reps. Jeff Kottkamp, R-Cape Coral; and Ralph Poppell, R-Vero Beach.

Gov. Jeb Bush said Monday he will allow Rubio to take the lead.

"I trust his judgment on this," Bush said. "He's a really bright lawyer that I think will make some good recommendations."

Bush met Monday with Stan Marshall, founder of the James Madison Institute. The Tallahassee-based conservative think tank has made property rights a major focus since the June court ruling, and will gather its own experts later in the week to come up with recommendations for "safeguarding private property rights in Florida."

It is when government can take land for private use that troubles Bush about the court's 5-4 decision.

"I'm hopeful there will be some changes to the law to make it more restrictive on using eminent domain for private purposes," the governor said.

Wayne Daltry, director of Lee County's Smart Growth initiative, said that many of Lehigh Acres' thousands of unused, small residential lots could be assembled and used to trade for other property the county may need for schools, parks or shopping. Eminent domain would kick in only to prevent a few holdouts from killing the project.

Senate President Tom Lee, who runs a Tampa homebuilding company, said Monday he is open to including the issue in a special session this fall, but wary of the outcome.

"Those are the kinds of issues that the Legislature makes big mistakes when it rushes into," Lee said.

Unlike Connecticut, Florida does not have a law that defines state economic development as a "public use" for which property may be condemned.

But in August, a Volusia County circuit judge cited the Supreme Court decision when he allowed Daytona Beach to force the sale of three vacant parcels for a $120 million oceanfront improvement project.

According to the Florida Redevelopment Association, recent eminent domain cases include efforts by the Fort Myers' Community Redevelopment Agency to aggregate and develop 500 acres of a 1920s subdivision that was never built.

Some in Lee County said that one-size-fits-all rules may not work in Florida.

"It'll make it tougher to assemble and replat lands," said Joe Mazurkiewicz, a Cape Coral development consultant. "It's a political, knee-jerk reaction to conditions that don't exist in Florida."

Cape Coral Economic Development Director Mike Jackson agreed.

"It would be a good thing to remember that growth issues are different all over the state," he said.

News-Press: www.news-press.com

D.M. targets buildings in East Village under eminent domain: Des Moines (IA) Register, 9/12/05

'I'm going to fight tooth and nail,' says business owner

By Jason Clayworth

City leaders say they will force a Des Moines business owner to sell two buildings in the burgeoning East Village area of downtown because he has failed to make upgrades to the property.

The move would be the city's first use of a U.S. Supreme Court-granted power to wrest control of private property and put it in the hands of developers as a way to boost the tax base.

Property rights advocates warn the action could pave the way for countless forced property sales.

"I'm going to fight tooth and nail," said Brad Hamilton, who owns 422 and 424 E. Locust St. — a T-shirt printing business and ZZZ Records. His buildings "impair the redevelopment" of the East Village, according to city officials.

The East Village in the past five years has been transformed from a mix of buildings, some vacant, to a collection of shops, restaurants, loft apartments and condominiums.

The improvements received a helping hand when the city pumped more than $11 million into the area just west of the Capitol for aesthetic improvements and developer incentives.

Hamilton's buildings passed an inspection in 2000.

But city officials in 2002 set guidelines for renovations and targeted about a dozen East Village buildings. Owners who failed to make improvements were told they would face eminent domain, which is the government's power to force land sales when property is considered necessary for public improvements.

"The idea is to save these buildings," the assistant city manager, Rick Clark, said at the time.

Most of the property owners have completed major renovations. City leaders, however, say Hamilton's buildings and a third, at 434 E. Locust owned by Kirk Blunck, "remain in a blighted condition."

Hamilton submitted a plan in April for $12,000 in repairs. City officials said it lacked detail.

Clark sent letters on Aug. 26 that gave Hamilton and Blunck 10 days to act. The letters did not mention specifically what needed to be fixed, but Blunck responded with a plan for almost $105,000 of improvements within the next year.

Hamilton initially balked, but plans to meet again with city officials this week.

The buildings were boarded up when he purchased them about five years ago. Hamilton says he has already updated plumbing, electrical work and floors, in addition to outside work on the buildings' facades.

He believes influential people who want his property have pressured city leaders to harass him.

"Do you think I'm going to let them steal my property? No way," he said.

Clark last week acknowledged that work has been done on Hamilton's buildings but said the improvements pale in comparison to others in the East Village area.

"I think what we're really looking for is a plan," Clark said. "I haven't personally gone through the buildings so I'm not sure exactly what all the conditions are inside."

Attorney Bill Lillis represents several property owners in the East Village, including Iowa State Bank Chief Executive John Burgeson and Basil Prosperi Bakery's Steve Logsdon.

Lillis urged the council on June 6 "to move without delay" and force Hamilton to make additional improvements.

Lillis on Aug. 17 submitted a client's offer to buy Hamilton's properties. Hamilton turned down the $450,000 offer.

City Councilman Archie Brooks said he will propose action within the next month to move forward with eminent domain proceedings.

He said the $450,000 offer is far more than what the city will give Hamilton. The properties are valued at $206,000, up almost $70,000 since 2001, according to county records.

"We're not asking him to do anything else than what others have already done," Brooks said. "We're not going to let this die. We've got people standing in line to buy those buildings over there."

Eminent domain powers for generations were used almost exclusively to force land sales for roads, bridges and public buildings, said Adrian Moore of the Reason Foundation, a nonprofit policy group in Los Angeles.

Politicians abuse the power to achieve goals that have nothing to do with the public good, Moore said this summer, shortly before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that cities can use eminent domain to help economic development.

"Taking people's property away for a public interest is one thing, but taking it away to give to another use that will pay more taxes is terrible," Moore said. "That means that nobody's property is safe."

At least six East Village property owners declined to comment specifically about Hamilton's situation, but none acknowledged complaints about the property. Brooks and Clark say they have received frequent complaints.

Property owner Bill Sexton said the beauty of the neighborhood is its eclectic mix of historic buildings and businesses, such as Hamilton's record store.

"I've been in that building and it's not in bad condition," he said.

Bryan Smith, manager of Blazing Saddle at 416 E. Sixth St. and a board member of the East Village neighborhood association, said his group has no problem with the condition of Hamilton's buildings. He said he is troubled by the city's threats.

"If they deem it viable to do something else with your building, they can consider anything an eyesore," Smith said. "Really, nobody is safe and especially the small people and business owners like us."

Des Moines Register: http://desmoinesregister.com

Eminent-domain outcry spans politics: Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, 9/12/05

By Peter Hardin

In Atlantic City, authorities sought to condemn the home of an elderly widow, located next to Donald Trump's casino, to make space for parking limousines.

In Cincinnati, a Walgreen's was condemned in order to build a Nordstrom department store and then a CVS pharmacy was condemned in order to relocate the Walgreen's.

To critics who voice alarm over what they call an erosion of private-property rights, these are among the examples. But it was a case in Connecticut that triggered a backlash in the nation and in Congress.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that New London had authority to take homes for a private development project to include a hotel, upscale condominiums and office space.

The outcry from people who saw private-property rights under attack was immediate and loud.

"In our fractured times . . . the Supreme Court appears to have done the impossible: unite the country in the common cause of opposing its decision," said law professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University.

It's not easy to spark sustained excitement over a government condemnation power called eminent domain. But that the Supreme Court helped do so was on display at a hearing of the House Agriculture Committee last week.

"In the wake of this decision, state and local governments can use eminent domain powers to take the property of any individual for nearly any reason," Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-6th, warned in opening the hearing.

"Cities may now bulldoze private citizens' homes, farms and small businesses to make way for shopping malls or other developments."

Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-Texas and chairman of the Appropriations agriculture subcommittee, cautioned that "Those with deep pockets and questionable intentions now have both the legal means and profit motive to sway local officials to do their bidding."

Rep. Maxine Waters, a liberal Democrat from Los Angeles, joined in with her belief that "To me, private property is sacred."

Given her record, there was no mistaking the liberal-conservative coalition that has developed after the Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London.

"The Kelo decision has struck a raw nerve around the country," testified Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Lawmakers even summoned up images of stubborn residents refusing to evacuate their hurricane-ravaged properties in New Orleans as reflecting the strength of American feelings about homeownership.

At the hearing, a bill by Bonilla to counteract the Supreme Court decision won warm reviews and virtually no dissent.

One of several bills drafted to address the Kelo ruling, it would use Congress' power of the purse to deny federal economic development aid to states and localities that take property for private commercial development.

"This bill really does have teeth," said Goodlatte, a conservative from Roanoke who used his chairmanship to pounce on the hot issue and give the bill its first hearing.

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell, a Republican from Stafford County, spoke favorably of the bill and told Goodlatte it had the potential to make an impact.

"You will get the states' attention," Howell said. He also is a board member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a bipartisan group of state legislators.

Howell reported on actions by states. Alabama and Texas already have passed laws to help limit abuses of the government condemnation power, he said, and dozens more are preparing to take up such legislation.

In Virginia, Howell said, similar legislation will be taken up in the General Assembly, and there will be an effort to amend the state constitution.

Historically, condemnation power has been employed for such public uses as highways, parks, military installations, schools, courthouses and post offices. But in recent decades, the use of the condemnation power for private development has become more widespread, experts said.

Some expansion of the power came with the urban renewal movement of the 1950s, testified lawyer Dana Berliner of the Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm.

Cities were authorized to use it to remove so-called slum neighborhoods, Berliner said, and the meaning of those "public" uses for which the power was permitted grew to include private uses such as condominiums and big-box stores.

In the Connecticut case, the goals of the New London project were to generate tax revenue, create jobs and help build momentum for downtown revitalization.

The Supreme Court decision in that case was supported by the National League of Cities, which has called eminent domain one of cities' most effective tools for economic development, and one that is used selectively and carefully.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams of Washington, the NLC president, called that power "indispensable for revitalizing local economies, creating much-needed jobs, and generating revenue that enables cities to provide essential services."

The cities group contends Congress should let states address the issue, according to NLC lawyer David Parkhurst, and U.S. lawmakers ought to "take a deep breath and be very careful about rushing through legislation that would have unintended consequences."

At last week's hearing, some lawmakers and witnesses raised questions about definitions and other technical aspects of the bill they feared might end up causing major problems.

Parkhurst also protested that the hearing was so unbalanced that had it "been on a ship, we would have capsized because we would have all tilted to one side."

In Virginia, state law basically prohibits the kind of condemnation that was at issue in New London, said Mark Flynn of the Virginia Municipal League, which represents local governments. Local governments in Virginia generally resist using condemnation, he said.

Richmond Times-Dispatch: www.timesdispatch.com

Showdown looms over eminent domain power: Silicon Valley/San Jose (CA) Business Journal, 9/11/05

By Timothy Roberts

The San Jose [CA] Redevelopment Agency is gearing up for a battle next year over the use of eminent domain in private developments.

The redevelopment agency, the largest in California, is concerned about a series of legislative attempts and two proposed constitutional amendments that would limit or even take away its power to take property and sell it to a private developer.

The legislative efforts have all bogged down in the last weeks of the legislative session that was expected to end as early as Sept. 8. But more than one of the four bills is expected to return next year.

The San Jose Redevelopment Agency says it rarely undertakes eminent domain proceedings, but that it needs that power to negotiate deals.

"Having it as a tool of last resort makes it clear that you are serious," says Patty Deignan, chief deputy general counsel for the redevelopment agency. "It gets people to listen to you."

Among the properties that the agency is attempting to buy now are the 14 acres south of Diridon Station to be used for affordable housing — or a baseball stadium.

The use of eminent domain, the power of government to take property for roads, and dams and other public projects often stirs controversy. More controversial still are cases in which cities and redevelopment agencies take property in order to spur economic development.

After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the latter use of eminent domain in a New London, Conn., case in June, California legislators jumped into the fray.

State Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, proposed a constitutional amendment that would prevent government from taking land and giving it to a developer for a private development.

Under McClintock's proposed amendment, the government entity that took the land would have to occupy it. It couldn't be turned over to an office or retail developer.

Mr. McClintock called the proposal "The Homeowner and Property Protection Act."

Another constitutional amendment filed by Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, would prohibit the taking of owner-occupied property for private use. And two other bills would declare a two-year moratorium on taking property for private use and call for a study of the use of eminent domain.

The McClintock amendment was voted down in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The other proposals were set aside for further study until next year. Mr. McClintock says he will reintroduce his proposal next year.

The San Jose Redevelopment Agency is gathering facts for a historic review of its own use of eminent domain so that it can testify against enactment of the limitations, Ms. Deignan says.

In announcing his proposal in July, Mr. McClintock said the Supreme Court decision "breaks the social compact that gives government its legitimacy. ... It used to be that if a widow didn't want to sell her home to a developer, she didn't have to. ... The government was there to protect her. Now government has become the thug."

State Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, a co-author of the McClintock bill, says the U.S. Supreme Court "made it easier for government to take property away from private citizens. That should be harder, not easier."

He says if the Legislature won't pass the constitutional amendment, he would support putting it on the ballot.

John Shirey, executive director of the California Redevelopment Association, calls the constitutional amendment "a nuclear bomb."

"This is a whole lot about politics and not much about policy," says Mr. Shirey. The association represents the state's redevelopment agencies.

The U.S. Supreme Court case (Kelo v. City of New London) had no impact on California, Mr. Shirey says. Here, as in most states, a condemnation cannot take place unless the government agency can show that the area to be taken is blighted.

"We have strong laws in California that strike a balance between redevelopment and property rights," he says.

The California Redevelopment Association was joined in its opposition to the bills by the California League of Cities.

The Santa Clara County Supervisors, however, sent a letter in support of one of the bills. Signed by Supervisor Liz Kniss the letter says the power of eminent domain should be used sparingly.

The county supervisors have often been at odds with the City of San Jose over its use of the redevelopment agency, which siphons off property tax revenue that the county says would otherwise go to schools and health care.

State Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara, preferred less drastic means of limiting the use of eminent domain that a constitutional amendment. She coauthored two bills that would call for a moratorium and further study.

"Eminent domain has proven to be an important tool to address blight," she said in a statement to the Business Journal. "However, we need to ensure that government takes a balanced approach when it uses this very powerful tool."

Silicon Valley/San Jose (CA) Business Journal: http://sanjose.bizjournals.com


Defenders of the public good, 9/10/05

A personal observation

By James Spolarich

I note that most of the staunch defenders of the 5th Amendment cited in eminent Domain Watch are not really defenders of "public use". They seem to be defenders of a slightly amended "public good", the right to take "blighted" and other property used in a manner they would rather not see. Conservatives who should be outraged by all "public good" takings are willing to accept half a loaf from the Democrats in order to temporarily forestall the total redistribution of private property by liberals (socialists) in a generation or two. I see that some Democrats are already making the distinction between personal property and commercial property (where they believe Kelo should be unrestricted).

James Spolarich: hikerguy@spolarich.net

Eminent domain lawsuits watched: (Louisville KY) Courier-Journal, 9/11/05

Sewer fight in Floyd could change limits

By Ben Zion Hershberg

A legal battle under way in Floyd County [IN] could set new limits on the way privately owned companies use eminent domain to take land from property owners.

The dispute is over lawsuits filed last month by Thieneman Environmental LLC, a newly created sewer system.

The company wants to take a 60-foot-wide swath of land from three neighbors to install a sewer line that would run from the company's planned plant in the Heritage Springs subdivision near Greenville to Jersey Park Creek.

The subdivision's developers, Steve and Don Thieneman, also own the sewer utility.

"I'm going to fight it," said Anna Mae Gahlinger, one of the property owners Thieneman Environmental sued and a vocal opponent of Heritage Springs.

Like many of her neighbors, Gahlinger has complained that the 206-house subdivision on 98 acres would be too large and too tightly packed for the rural neighborhood.

She doesn't want to give the sewer company any of her land to help develop the subdivision, Gahlinger said.

"You just don't take private property over the serious objections of its owner" because a private developer wants it, Gahlinger said.

Greg Fifer, the developers' lawyer, said he believes the legal issues are clearly in his clients' favor.

Indiana law gives utilities the right to take land needed for a public purpose, Fifer said, and it doesn't matter if the utility is privately owned.

The fact his clients own the sewer company and the subdivision it will serve doesn't matter, Fifer said. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission certified Thieneman Environmental as a utility in June, and that supports the company's right to take easements for its sewer lines to provide service to homeowners, he said.

The company would pay an appraised value for the easements.

But Mike Mullett, an environmental and public-interest lawyer from Indianapolis, said there might be ways for Gahlinger and other property owners to fight.

"You cannot exercise eminent domain for a private purpose," Mullett said. "It must be exercised for a public purpose."

The eminent domain suits were filed in Floyd Circuit Court. Judge J. Terrence Cody has recused himself and Clark Superior Court Judge Steven Fleece has been appointed to handle them.

Eric Kelly, a lawyer and a professor of urban planning at Ball State University, said that defining what is a public purpose can be difficult.

As an example, he cited a public airport's expansion. Most people would agree that an airport serves a public purpose and stimulates economic development, Kelly said, but private businesses operate in the airport and make more money because of the expansion.

"We probably make it too easy to set up private utility companies in Indiana," Kelly said.

Thieneman Environmental's eminent domain cases sound as though they might be "pretty far" into the gray area of state law, Kelly said, but he thinks the company likely will prevail.

Jeffersonville lawyer Jack Vissing, who represents Gahlinger, filed objections to Thieneman Environmental using eminent domain. They focus on the company's procedures and on his clients' basic property rights.

He argues that the certification of the company as a utility is contingent upon state environmental regulators approving its sewer-construction plans. That hasn't happened, Vissing said, so the company isn't certified.

Louisville Courier-Journal: www.courier-journal.com

Firm criticized for threatening eminent domain: Camden (NJ) Courier-Post, 9/10/05

By Wilford S Shamlin

[Westville] Borough officials are demanding that a company involved with a redevelopment project apologize to residents after it mailed letters threatening to condemn their homes to make way for construction of townhouses and retail stores.

Borough officials have said for months that use of eminent domain to seize property was the last resort in negotiations with homeowners who live in the redevelopment zone along Big Timber Creek.

However, residents said that they were angered by the tone of the two-page letter, signed by the president of Rhoads Inc., James C. Rhoads. The letter, dated Aug. 9, ended with an implied threat that the residents had to get back to the company within 14 days or the matter would be referred back to the borough to begin condemnation proceedings.

Borough Solicitor Robert P. Becker Jr. fired off an Aug. 15 letter saying the content of the letters from Rhoads Inc. are "unacceptable to the borough."

Rhoads Inc., of Voorhees, was hired by Fieldstone Associates, the Doylestown, Pa., firm charged with overseeing the redevelopment project. Arthur Corsini, principal for Fieldstone Associates, refused an interview Friday.

The letter also upset the mayor and council because they said they were not consulted before it was mailed, said Borough Administrator William Bittner Jr.

During an information session in January, Fieldstone unveiled a $40 million plan for a restaurant, 5,000 to 15,000 square feet of commercial space along Delsea Drive and Broadway, plus 78 townhouses with outdoor balconies.

The major concern expressed by residents was the possibility of losing their homes through condemnation proceedings if they refuse to sell.

In some cases, it could mean losing a business, too — as it does for Lou Achilles, 65, and his wife, Delores, 63, and two sons, Al and Henry, who all manage Grabbe's Seafood Restaurant on Delsea Drive.

Their property — which includes a wholesale seafood store and a house — falls within the redevelopment zone. But they're not interested in selling or moving their third-generation business, which has been operating since 1933.

"There's no reason to move," Delores Achilles said. "We're not for sale."

The Achilles said they were given a low-ball figure, which they said they were advised by an attorney not to reveal, to sell their property. Lou Achilles called the offer an "insult."

"You can't replace what we have with what they want to give us," said Al Achilles. "Not even close."

Delores Achilles said that the redevelopment company has disrupted their lives.

They worry constantly whether the property can be seized.

"This is my home and my life. How would you feel?" she said. "I don't want to leave."

Fran Williams, 65, who lives on South Timber Avenue, said: "I'm not happy about the price that they quoted us. It is kind of ridiculous. Nobody's place is up for sale and they want to give us less than fair market value."

Barbara Wassel, 63, of Cherry Hill, runs Westcreek Marina on South Timber Avenue for 22 years. She doesn't want to sell her spot by the Big Timber Creek either.

"What they want to take from me, you can't replace," she said, also not quoting the offer. Wassel added she worried that other areas could be redeveloped, especially if the current redevelopment project turns out successful.

"It'll never stop," said Charles Hepp, another South Timber Avenue resident. Reach

Courier-Post: www.courierpostonline.com

Eminent domain not main issue in Norwood : Cincinnati (OH) Enquirer, 9/10/05

By Steve Kemme

Eminent domain - the legal tool allowing governments to seize private property - has thrust Norwood [OH] into the national spotlight over the past three years.

But the city's battle to force five property owners to sell to a developer so that the planned Rookwood Exchange office-retail-condo development can be built appears unlikely to have much impact on the current Norwood City Council races.

Of the eight council members running for re-election, all but Keith Moore consistently supported the use of eminent domain in the Rookwood Exchange case.

Some residents and City Council challengers say the eminent domain issue has faded.

They also say that Norwood's financial crisis poses a more pressing concern.

"It will be an issue for people in southern Norwood," said Rick Hursh, co-chairman of a nonpartisan community activist group called Citizens for a Better Norwood.

The controversy focused on an area bordered by Interstate 71 and Edwards and Edmondson roads.

"But for me, the greatest issue for the election will be the city finances and the inability of the leaders of the city to address the financial issues."

Ann Connolly, who lives on Smith Road near the Rookwood developments, said eminent domain won't play a role in her vote.

"As much as I hate all this traffic, I think eminent domain was used for the benefit of Norwood," said Connolly, a 73-year-old who has lived in Norwood for 55 years.

Loretta Phillips, 38, voiced a similar view.

"It's sad people had to lose their houses, but they were financially compensated for it," she said. "I think putting all that development over there is bringing a lot of revenue to Norwood."

Norwood faces a year-end deficit of $1.5 million to $2 million because of years of overspending and delays in the construction of the $125 million Rookwood Exchange and other major commercial development projects.

For almost a year, Norwood has been on the state's fiscal watch list, Ohio's second most serious economic designation for financially troubled communities.

City leaders say they have been working for the past two years to cut expenses while maintaining services and avoiding layoffs. They expect the Rookwood Exchange and other planned developments to help lift the city out of its crisis.

The primary reminders of the eminent domain controversy are the three two-story buildings, standing like solitary soldiers of a defeated army on the Rookwood Exchange property.

The other 66 houses and businesses have been torn down. But the fate of the three remaining properties won't be decided until the Ohio Supreme Court makes its final ruling in the case.

For this election, City Council has been reduced from nine seats to seven because of Norwood's declining population. There are three at-large seats and four ward seats. There had been six ward seats.

Betty Howard, an independent challenger trying to unseat Democrat Will DeLuca in Ward 3, said the eminent domain issue caused her to run for council.

"One of the current council members seeking re-election said on the council floor that the only way for residents to protect their properties from being taken by eminent domain for private development is to elect council members who won't vote for it," Howard said. "That's one of the big reasons I'm running for City Council in Ward 3. I won't vote for it."

But Brigid Kelly, a Democratic challenger running against Republican incumbent Cassandra Brown in Ward 2, said she doesn't view eminent domain as an issue in her race. "I have some personal reservations about the way eminent domain was used," she said. "But a lot of voters are concerned about the financial state of the city."

Former mayor Victor Schneider, a GOP challenger for an at-large seat, and Todd Tittle, a Republican challenger against Democrat John Mumper in Ward 4, also say eminent domain isn't a big issue any more.

Schneider commented instead on the breakdown of council members by party. Mayor Tom Williams and seven of nine council members are Democrats. In the previous regime, Republicans dominated. "Citizens in Norwood can see where having one party with complete power is not the best way to run the city," Schneider said.

Melissa Miller, 33, who lives near I-71 on Avilla Place, said she's more concerned about safety in schools, recreation for children and street repairs than eminent domain.

Cincinnati Enquirer: http://news.enquirer.com