Business and dreams headed for Eminent Domain Doom? Help!

To: Eminent Domain Watch

From: Erick & LyNae Marshall

We built our home 11 years ago on Centerville Lake in Centerville MN. LyNae's parents built next to us. (It's two blocks from the 'downtown' area - comprised really of two bars and an insurance office.)

In 2005, the City Council was considering rezoning our home, our parent's home and our surrounding neighbors to "mixed use". We of course put up a stink and the council voted to keep us residential. However, the City Council is now preparing to "revitalize" the downtown. The city has not actually used the words "Eminent Domain" Yet because, in our opinion, there is so much heat over this in the local papers with the neighboring town of Hugo. We believe that Eminent Domain is indeed what Centerville Council is preparing to do.

We believe this because:
  • This year, we purchased an old run-down home 1/2 block down the street from our home. That whole square block just down the street from us has recently been rezoned to "mixed use". We run our own small electrical business and thought that since the city rezoned that block, we could 'set up shop' just down the street. The city currently owns 1/2 of that square block, while the other half are residential homes. The "revitalization development plans" show that our property will be a holding pond for the development which will consist of shops on the street level with "high density affordable housing" on the the 2nd and 3rd level. It is our understanding that the City of Centerville will receive a government 'kick-back' of approximately $200,000-300,000 if a developer puts up "affordable housing".
  • This month, the city contacted us about doing an appraisal on our property. We refused. To date, the city has not given us a straight answer on who is the possible developer, although we already know that it is a local resident along with one of the town's bar owners (the bar owner will be able to implement the tax increment financing.) Also, the city will not give us an answer as to whether or not they plan to take all or a portion of our property (the "revitalization plans" currently show all of our property as a holding pond.)

We are all for "revitalizing" our dumpy looking town (LyNae was on the "MN Design Team" revitalization committee 5 years ago.) But, revitalization could easily be accomplished by getting the local bar owners and surrounding homeowners to clean up their places. We are even in support for shops and condos if local business owners and homeowners would be willing to sell their properties - and some are. But we are not in favor of "high density affordable housing" as it would negatively impact the value of our home here on the lake. This is another reason we purchased the dilapidated home down the street; as a 'buffer zone' between our home on the lake and "high density affordable housing".

For several years, little Centerville and the much larger town of Woodbury, were the fasted growing towns in MN. Has Centerville City (population of about 3,000) become too big for its britches with this growth spurt? We can see that ultimately, our property is headed for "Eminent Domain Doom".

Does anyone have any advice or help for us at this time?

Erick & LyNae Marshall: acemitch@usfamily.net