Appeals court rules against homeowners in eminent domain case: Akron (OH) Beacon-Journal, 6/30/06

By Associated Press

An 80-year-old woman who has fought [Cincinnati's] attempt to take her house for a road project lost her claim in a state appeals court.

The 1st Ohio District Court of Appeals has ruled that two property owners cannot appeal the city's claim of eminent domain until after a jury trial determines the value of their properties.

The ruling clears the way for Cincinnati to tear down the two houses, because eminent domain law allows the city to take possession of a property after providing the court its estimated value, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported Friday.

Emma Dimasi had lived in one of the houses for 47 years before a judge ordered her to move out in May or face a $1,000 fine for every day she stayed. She has been living with her son - who also is her lawyer - since leaving her small, brick home.

"Basically the choices we have are to drop this whole thing or file an appeal with the (Ohio) Supreme Court," her son, Vincent Dimasi, told the newspaper.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that cities and states have the power to take private property to give to another private owner, but that states have the power to enact stronger rights for property owners.

In the first challenge of property rights laws to reach a state high court since then, the Ohio Supreme Court is considering whether Norwood, a Cincinnati suburb, can take residential property and give it to a developer for a shopping mall. A ruling is pending.

The Dimasis argue that case could have implications for them. They claim the road project would benefit a $122 million hospital expansion.

The city and the hospital say the timing of the two projects is coincidental.

Akron beacon-Journal: http://www.ohio.com/mld/beaconjournal