Council overrides Mayor’s eminent domain, demolition vetoes: Amesbury MA News, 11/3/06

By Kendra Kelley

The [Amesbury] Municipal Council swiftly struck down two mayoral vetoes in a special meeting that lasted less than 20 minutes Monday night. The council affirmed its decisions concerning an act to limit eminent domain and an ordinance to revise the historic demolition bylaw.

Mayor Thatcher Kezer argued that the eminent domain language runs counter to Massachusetts General Law....

The council ... overrode [the] mayoral veto on an act to limit the use of eminent domain. Kezer called his changes to the bill "corrective language" to rectify what he saw as a conflict with the Town Charter. Kezer said he did not object to the goal of protecting private property from eminent domain for non-public use, but he did object to the portion of the bill that seeks to limit the power of eminent domain to use by the council.

"For the purpose of sewer, water, roads and drainage, the power of eminent domain is vested in the Mayor through the Amesbury Town Charter," he wrote in a formal letter to the council. Kezer said because the bill seeks to centralize power with the council it runs contrary to the charter and is in violation of Massachusetts General Law. At last week’s council meeting the council voted against adopting a set of changes offered by the mayor that outlined mayoral powers of eminent domain.

Councilor Alison Lindstrom, a sponsor of the bill, said the act had been sufficiently debated. "This has been up for debate and discussion for 6 months," she said, adding that town "precedent" has been to let the council use eminent domain. She added that the language of the bill would allow state lawmakers to address any conflicts in language concerning town laws and state regulations. "If it is illegal either the senate or the house council will know," she said.

Councilor Roger Benson said he supported the bill when it was approved, but that he was disappointed the council did not have more time to address the veto. "I would really like to have a conversation in light of what they mayor has brought up," he said. The final vote was 6 to 3 with councilors Benson, King and Robert Lavoie voting against a veto override.

Amesbury MA News: http://www2.townonline.com/amesbury