Eminent Domain Claims Alarm Monitoring Company: CEPro, 11/10/06

By Julie Jacobson

[Eminent domain abuse] has now hit close to home in [the consumer electronics] industry. USA Central Station, an alarm monitoring company that offers its services to dealers, will have to resettle its Port Chester, N.Y. operations if the courts and an allegedly nefarious developer get their way. President Bart Didden is claiming that a private developer demanded an $800,000 payoff for a new business venture or the developer would get the Village of Port Chester to take Didden's property through eminent domain.

Didden refused, court papers indicate, and the Village took his property the next day.

Didden and another affected party, Domenick Bologna, filed suit in federal court, arguing that the taking violated the Fifth Amendment, which only allows property to be taken for a "public use." The trial court threw out their case, and the Second Circuit agreed.

Because their property lay within a "redevelopment area" - a region the Village had designated as subject to its eminent domain power - the Constitution doesn't protect them from condemnation, even though they had alleged that they were condemned solely because they resisted the developer's attempted extortion.

The Institute for Justice, which fought the Kelo case, is appealing Didden and Bologna's case to the Supreme Court. The group argues, "[E]ven after the Kelo decision, courts have to evaluate eminent domain actions on an individual, case-by-case basis. A government's determination that a whole area needs 'redevelopment' doesn't give it a blank check to take every property within that region for any reason it chooses -- nor does it give private developers free reign to extort money from property owners in the neighborhood."

CEPro - the Consumer Electronics Association: http://www.cepro.com