Retired military officials oppose proposed eminent domain limits: KVOA-TV4, Tucson AZ, 10/18/06

A group of civic leaders and retired military officials criticized a measure on the November ballot that would limit the ability of governments to take property through eminent domain.

Gathering Tuesday south of Luke Air Force Base, the critics said the measure would destroy efforts to protect military bases from residential encroachment.

The fear is that the proposition will weaken local zoning requirements enacted by the Legislature to protect the bases.

Supporters of the proposal say it was needed because the government has abused its powers to compel property sales for public use.

Proposition 207 would require compensation of property owners for any changes to zoning or other land-use laws that owners believe negatively affect their property values.

Opponents say the measure could virtually freeze all zoning and land-use planning, cost state and local governments millions of dollars and lead to lengthy and costly court battles paid for by taxpayers.

State lawmakers passed legislation decreeing which land uses are acceptable within the noise contours of the military bases, and it's up to local governments to make sure zoning is compatible with the installations.

Proposition 207 would grandfather in past zoning. But Jack Lunsford, president and chief executive of Westmarc, a consortium of civic and business leaders in western metropolitan Phoenix, said there is a question whether land sold within the noise contours would be subject to the proposition's terms.

Retired Air Force Gen. Tom Browning, who served as co-chairman of a task force that came up with a plan to protect the state's bases, predicted that if the proposition passes, 15 years of hard work by military base stakeholders, Arizona governors and legislative leaders would, in effect, be undone.

KVOA-TV4, Tucson AZ: http://kvoa.com