10/22/2006

No need to clarify state's eminent domain with ballot Proposal 4: Bay City MI Times, 10/20/06

Editorial

Of all the misguided attempts on Nov. 7 to change Michigan's constitution, Proposal 4 takes the cake.

The ballot proposal is a knee-jerk reaction to a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling involving eminent domain. The court ruled that the U.S. Constitution does not prevent governments from taking private property for private development.

It doesn't affect Michigan.

Our state constitution already defines eminent domain as the power of a government to take private property for a public use.

Yet, in case there is any confusion here about what is allowed, the Michigan Supreme Court settled the question even before the U.S. Supreme Court took it up.

In 2004, the state's highest court ruled that ''general economic development'' is not a ''public purpose'' suitable for the use of eminent domain.

On the issue of blight, Proposal 4 takes a gray area in the law and shades it a bit. The proposal still would allow governments to seize rundown private property for redevelopment, but would force cities to meet a higher standard in defining what is blight.

Those whose land is taken may not like the process, but eminent domain is supposed to be used for the greater public good.

In Michigan, it is.

Our Supreme Court says so.

Our constitution says so.

On Nov. 7, a ''no'' vote for Proposal 4 will say so, too.


Bay City MI Times: http://www.mlive.com/news/bctimes