Ban Eminent Domain Abuse: Wheeling WV Intelligencer, 2/20/07


When the Ohio Supreme Court in July issued a ruling that condemned widespread abuse of eminent domain proceedings, many Buckeye State residents probably thought the matter was closed. But leave it to bureaucrats and their attorneys to find a loophole in any court ruling. In some cities, loopholes are being sought to steer around the court’s ruling.

That is reason enough to support a movement to amend the state’s constitution in order to provide ironclad protection against abuse of eminent domain power. Several state legislators are proposing to ask voters to do just that.

The lawmakers hope to place a measure on the ballot in November to make it clear that local governments cannot use eminent domain power to obtain property for economic development projects.

In July, the state Supreme Court voted unanimously to curb severely the power of local governments to use eminent domain authority solely to obtain land for private economic development projects. But the proposed constitutional amendment, as we understand it, would, in effect, ban use of eminent domain in any situation involving private economic development projects. It’s a fine line — but one that you can count on being used as a loophole.

Ohioans also can count on municipal government officials opposing the proposed amendment. They would have preferred to have had no limits on how they could use eminent domain power; the amendment would have the effect of virtually prohibiting them from using it for anything but public works projects. We think most Ohioans will agree that eminent domain power should be restricted to such use.

Wheeling WV Intelligencer: http://www.theintelligencer.net