The Keene City Council Votes In Favor of Eminent Domain: Keene NH Free Keene, 2/18/07

The Keene City Council has voted 9 to 6 in favor of of forcibly taking private property from a Keene resident for “the good of the community.” For years, the council and Keene residents have debated over whether or not a roundabout should be built at the Main, Winchester, and Marlboro street intersection, but until recently eminent domain was not on the table. Thomas Eaton, who owns the land in question, was considering selling the coveted piece of property to the city of Keene, but when the project skyrocketed over the projected budget to over $4 million, he withdrew the offer.

The city of Keene has no right to take private property from anyone for any reason. This country was founded on property rights, and no government, even for the good of the “community,” should be allowed to violate any rights. Rights by definition cannot be taken away, and if the city is permitted to take private property, then property rights must not exist.

Eaton is not alone in his fight to keep his property. Many Keene residents think Eaton should be allowed to keep his land. Although non-scientific, WKBK’s web poll shows 85% of respondents do not want eminent domain to be used in this case. The Keene City Council clearly is not listening to the opposition, as seems to be a recurring theme.

Although many people correctly remember being taught at a young age that taking something that belongs to someone else is wrong, the council members who voted in favor of eminent domain seem to have lost their moral compasses. They justify their deeds by saying it is not for them, but for the public good. Council member Nathaniel Stout justifies the wrong in taking Eaton’s property by seeing the good in gifting it to the public. He told the Keene Sentinel “Nobody likes eminent domain… but in this particular case, it’s not just taking. There’s give too.” With Stout’s reasoning, a bank robber should not be arrested for robbing a bank if he shares the bounty. While a nice story, it is not the job of the council members to act as modern day Robin Hoods.

The public needs to stand up against the council members who are pushing eminent domain through. There will be a public hearing on the issue on March 19 at 6 pm. If the public accepts the stealing of Eaton’s property, anyone’s, including the current coucil member’s property, could be next.

Keene NH Free Keene: http://freekeene.com