Local gov't officials endorse eminent domain reform: Twin Cities (Minneapolis & St Paul MN) Business Journal, 2/24/06

By John Vomhof Jr

Mayors and city council members from several Minnesota communities have declared their support for reforming the state's eminent domain laws.

The mayors of Anoka, Dover, Duluth, Ham Lake, Maplewood and North Branch, along with city council members from Brooklyn Center, Deephaven and New Brighton announced their support of the eminent domain reform bill proposed by Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Virginia, and Rep. Jeff Johnson, R-Plymouth.

"We need strong and uniform protection of every home, farm, church and small business," Anoka Mayor Bjorn Skogquist said at a press conference Thursday. "No Minnesotan should fear the threat or actual use of eminent domain for the benefit of private corporations. We are mayors, not developers."

Eminent domain reform has become a hot issue in the wake of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld local governments' rights to condemn land and transfer it to private developers if it would result in a public benefit. The ruling allows eminent domain to be used for projects that would generate more jobs or increased tax revenue, as well as public-use projects such as roads and parks.

On Wednesday, a different group of local government officials gathered in St. Paul to urge caution in address the eminent domain issue. That group proposed more moderate reform that would prohibit the use of eminent domain for economic development except for projects receiving state funding.

"We are calling for responsible eminent domain reform that balances the needs of individual property owners with the livability of our communities," said Jim Miller, executive director for the League of Minnesota Cities.

Twin Cities Business Journal: http://twincities.bizjournals.com