DOE Issues Two Draft National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor Designations: US Dept of Energy, 4/26/07

News release

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today
announced the issuance of two draft National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor (National Corridor) designations. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes the Secretary, based on the findings of DOE’s National Electric Transmission Congestion Study (Congestion Study), to designate National Corridors.

“These draft designations set us on the path to modernize our constrained and congested electric power infrastructure, they are a crucial step toward realizing President Bush’s goal of a modern, more efficient electric power delivery system,” Secretary Bodman said. “I am confident the Department’s actions will help facilitate the infrastructure growth necessary to meet the demands of our growing economy.”

These draft National Corridors are comprised of two geographic areas where consumers are currently adversely affected by transmission capacity constraints or congestion.

The proposed Mid-Atlantic Area National Corridor includes counties in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and all of New Jersey, Delaware, and the District of Columbia.

The proposed Southwest Area National Corridor includes counties in California, Arizona, and Nevada.

These draft designations are being issued after months of careful study by DOE, which
included close consideration of public comments on the Congestion Study, released by the Department last August. The Department recognizes the broad public interest in this process and, therefore, though not required by statute, is issuing draft designations in order to allow additional opportunities for review and comment by affected States, regional entities, and the general public.

Within a National Corridor, transmission proposals could potentially be reviewed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which would have siting authority supplementing existing state authority. This would mean if an applicant does not receive approval from a State to site a proposed new transmission project within a National Corridor, the FERC may consider whether to issue a permit and to authorize construction. In the event of a FERC siting proceeding, the FERC must conduct a review under the National Environmental Policy Act, which would include analysis of alternative routes for that project, including route realignments necessary to avoid adverse effects on the environment, landowners, and local communities. A federal permit could empower the permit holder to exercise the right of eminent domain to
acquire necessary property rights to build a transmission project. That authority could only be exercised if the developer could not acquire the property by negotiation, and even then, the authority would not apply to property owned by the United States or a State, such as national or state parks.

The Department of Energy is issuing draft National Corridors in order to encourage a full consideration of all options available to meet local, regional and national demand, which includes more local generation, transmission capacity, demand response, and energy efficiency measures. DOE is not directing the construction of new transmission in a certain area, nor is it determining the route for any proposed transmission project. DOE is not asserting that additional transmission capacity is the only solution to resolve electricity problems in these regions.

These draft National Corridors cover a sufficiently broad geographic area. They are designed to be large enough to help facilitate access to a range of possible generation sources that could serve the congested area and they preserve the options of State authorities and private companies to determine which generation sources are of principal interest. The draft National Corridors are broad enough to allow consideration of a range of potential transmission projects and routes by the appropriate transmission planning entities, siting authorities (e.g., State agencies and, under certain conditions, the FERC), and prospective transmission developers.

A 60-day comment period will begin the day draft National Corridor designations are published in the Federal Register. During the comment period, DOE will confer with affected States and will hold the following three public meetings: DC metro area on May 15, 2007; San Diego, CA, on May 17, 2007; and New York, NY, on May 23, 2007.

Additional information and a copy of the Federal Register notice are available at: http://nietc.anl.gov

Ex-Mayor Campbell Testifies In Flats Eminent Domain Case: WEWS-TV5, Cleveland OH, 5/14/07

Property Owners Say Developer Isn't Offering Fair Price For Land

Former Cleveland [OH] Mayor Jane Campbell took the stand Monday in probate court, giving testimony in the eminent domain fight over the east bank of the Flats.

Developer Scott Wolstein plans to build condos and businesses on the east bank, and he said he needs nine more parcels for the project.

But the owners of the properties argue that Port Authority has no right to their property and isn't offering a fair price.

Plans for the project started when Campbell was mayor. In her testimony, Campbell said she doesn't remember every detail for the Flats project because bigger issues were going on in the city at the time.

"We had a couple of police shootings and the schools. So, a few other things were going on," Campbell said.

If the judge rules the Port Authority can take the properties, then a jury will decide the price.

The case is expected to take a couple weeks.

WEWS-TV5, Cleveland OH: http://www.newsnet5.com

Neptune to vote on eminent domain law: Asbury Park NJ Press, 5/14/07

Plan would exempt certain properties

By Bill Bowman

A proposed ordinance designed to exempt certain township property owners from falling under state eminent domain regulations should be strengthened, a [Neptune NJ] township committeeman said.

Committeeman Tom Catley said the ordinance — scheduled for a public hearing and final vote at tonight's Township Committee meeting — is actually taking "a step backward" from protections that were already on the books.

The ordinance under consideration prohibits the township from exercising its eminent domain power — the authority to take private property for fair compensation — on owner-occupied residences provided the owner has lived in the house for at least two years.

A town's power to exercise eminent domain kicks in when properties are included in an area designated as being in need of redevelopment.

The proposed ordinance would exempt residential properties in areas that have already been declared in need of redevelopment, and those residential properties that the township needs to take for public use or to further public safety.

Commercial properties are not included in the ordinance.

Among other things, Catley's proposal, which he mailed to his fellow committee members last week, would abolish the two-year residency requirement and would require the township to find suitable alternative locations for businesses that fall in redevelopment areas.

Catley's proposal would also allow homeowners to pass a property included in a redevelopment zone on to a family member with the protections still in place, which the proposed ordinance does not do.

Catley said those protections are already included in a "Residential and Business Owners Bill of Rights" the committee adopted by way of resolution in 2004. Township Attorney Gene Anthony has said it's his belief that resolutions made during one administration are not binding under following administrations.

If that's so, Catley said, why does the ordinance under consideration include a recision of the 2004 resolution?

"I believe that the resolution is still in force," Catley said. "I don't understand why they would want to go backwards."

Hawthorne Avenue resident Barbara Muzychka, an opponent of eminent domain use for anything but traditional public uses such as road construction, derided Catley's proposal as grandstanding.

"He's just basically repeating what we've been saying," Muzychka said, referring to members of a grass-roots organization opposed to what it calls eminent domain abuse.

Still, she said, she would rather the committee not vote on the ordinance as it's written and include provisions like those Catley has suggested.

"I would rather they didn't vote on it and they draw up a new one," she said. "I'd rather have nothing until we have the right thing. If they pass this, we won't have anything more."

Muzychka said the ordinance should prohibit all exercises of eminent domain except when properties are needed for projects such as highways or to correct a health hazard.

"Not just to put something prettier there," she said.

Asbury Park NJ Press: www.app.com

Acting on 'public purpose,' government can snatch private property: Memphis TN Commercial Appeal, 5/13/07

By Amos Maki

Fred Davis, owner of Fred Davis Insurance Agency, bought a small lot on Looney Street in the Uptown neighborhood in 1989.

Davis, a former longtime city councilman, thought the property would make a good investment and that he might eventually develop it.

But he may never get the chance, because the Memphis Housing Authority and the Division of Housing and Community Development have notified Davis that they want to buy his property.

If Davis doesn't voluntarily sell, MHA could use "as a last and final resort" its power of eminent domain to acquire the property.

"If I decide that I want to develop it, I ought to have the option to do it," said Davis. "If they said this was for a fire station or library or the general public good, I can deal with that."

While different in some respects, Davis' case has echoes of Kelo vs City of New London, Conn., where the U.S. Supreme Court decided that local governments may force property owners to sell and make way for private economic development when officials decide it would benefit the public. In Kelo, the public benefit was additional tax revenue generated by new developments.

Governments have long purchased private property for the construction of roads, bridges, dams, sewer lines and other public projects. If owners are unwilling to sell, governments turn to eminent domain.

But the Kelo case touched off a nationwide debate about how and when eminent domain should be used, with dozens of states passing laws to make it more difficult for municipalities to exercise eminent domain.

"The Kelo decision was actually one of the best things that ever happened to the national property rights movement, as it clearly imprinted the precarious nature of private property rights in the public consciousness and has inspired significant reforms nationwide," said Leonard Gilroy, a senior policy analyst at the Reason Foundation, in a statement.

In Tennessee, a bill passed last year placed new restrictions on eminent domain but still allows its use for public purposes, industrial parks and limited private uses.

"It was a bit of a compromise," said Kevin Walsh, a principal with the law firm of Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh PLLC. "It was an attempt to calm some fears people had from Kelo, and I don't know that it truly accomplishes it."

One main provision of Tennessee's legislation requires local governments to certify the "public purpose and necessity" of seizing land.

The law also said indirect public benefits coming from private development - such as new tax revenue in the Kelo case - did not qualify as a "public purpose."

The legislation also gives property owners more time - 30 days instead of five - to challenge a finding of "public purpose."

Importantly in Davis' case, the legislation said housing authority or community development agencies could acquire property to "implement an urban renewal or redevelopment plan in a blighted area."

That is the main difference between the Kelo and Uptown eminent domain cases.

"If you look at Kelo, there was never any indication by the condemning authority of blight," said Walsh.

The Memphis City Council and Shelby County Commission declared the Uptown area blighted, allowing MHA to use eminent domain. In other words, the use of eminent domain in Uptown is to remove blight while the use in New London was to create more tax revenue by removing existing homes and residents to make way for more expensive developments.

MHA initiates the proceedings and buys the properties through its land bank. Then the city's development partners - Belz Enterprises and Henry Turley Co., master developers of Uptown - are paid fees to develop the property.

Davis' Uptown property is at the corner of Fourth and Looney. Surrounded by Uptown homes on the south and east, and well-kept existing homes on the north, with a mix of older and newer homes to the west, the vacant site has some tall grass. But Davis said it is hardly "blighted."

"I've paid my taxes and I keep it up," he said. "I pay somebody to come over here and mow the grass."

Robert Lipscomb, the city's chief financial officer, director and CFO of HCD and executive director of MHA, said the city has always used eminent domain as a tool of last resort and that there is a delicate balancing act of property owners' rights.

On the one hand, Lipscomb said, the city wants to preserve the property rights and investments of owners like Davis.

But on the other hand, the city is trying to bring more investment to the Uptown neighborhood. That investment could be halted or slowed by vacant lots strewn with grass, weeds or junk, Lipscomb said.

Eminent domain has been used, or threatened, in several Downtown projects, including FedExForum, AutoZone Park, the National Civil Rights Museum and in the airport buyout area.

With eminent domain, the government offers "just compensation" for the property and then takes the land. In MHA's case, the agency offers owners the appraised value of the property.

Davis' quarter-acre lot was appraised at $16,200, according to Shelby County Assessor Rita Clark's Web site.

While Davis said he has no current plans to develop the property, which he bought in 1989 for $53,000, he said he might one day decide to build something on the site, formerly home to a six-unit apartment building gutted by a fire.

And Davis believes the lot could bring a higher price on the market, especially since Uptown is in the midst of a remarkable transformation.

"There are two kinds of values to property, appraised and market," he said. "Appraised is a hell of a lot different from market value."

Gene Pearson, director of the graduate program in city and regional planning at the University of Memphis, said that while sometimes controversial, eminent domain is an important tool for cities.

"It's probably the only way redevelopment can take place in a timely fashion," Pearson said. "Clearly, most cities see areas that have declined and they make a judgment call as to what is in the best interest of the city and property owners may not see it that way.

"It's always subject to definition and there is always going to be debate."

If the city moves forward with eminent domain, Davis said the debate would almost certainly continue.

"I would have to get some legal advice on the best way to respond," he said.

Memphis TN Commercial Appeal: http://www.commercialappeal.com


City threat hangs over Willets Pt: Astoria NY Times-Ledger, 5/10/07

By Stephen Stirling

The potential use of eminent domain is looming large over the 250 businesses in Willets Point, and legal experts say the concerned owners face an uphill battle if the city should decide to utilize the controversial practice.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg specifically said last week that the city would not hesitate to use eminent domain, which allows the government to forcibly condemn property to advance development, if it deemed it necessary to go forward with a proposed $1.5 billion redevelopment of the 13-square block site in northern Queens.

The 60-acres that make up Willets Point, known as the Iron Triangle, has long been an eyesore for city officials. The area lacks several elements of fundamental infrastructure, including a sewage and drainage system, paved roads and street lights. The Iron Triangle also boasts a high water table, which the city said has allowed years of toxic materials produced by auto-related businesses based in the area to spread easily whenever it rains, creating widespread contamination.

New York state eminent domain law says property cannot be taken solely for economic development. However, according to attorney Lisa Bova-Hiatt of the city Law Department, the law contains a stipulation that if an area is considered a public blight, an exception can be made and a municipality can take the land - a stipulation she said would be utilized by the city if it chooses to use eminent domain at Willets Point.

Manhattan-based attorney Robert Goldstein, who has represented eminent domain cases for nearly 60 years with his firm Goldstein, Goldstein, Rikon and Gottlieb, said the city's power is more far-reaching than Bova-Hiatt says.

"The reality is when a public body empowered with the power of condemnation makes a factual determination and decides as a matter of policy that this is what they want to do, the courts will not second guess them," Goldstein said.

Business owners argue that they have been the victims of far-reaching neglect on the part of the city, and with infrastructure improvements the area would flourish.

"It's been purposefully neglected by the city," said Anthony Fodera, president of Fodera Foods. "They've caused the blight and neglect."

Business owners in the area are reviewing their legal options, but Goldstein said they need not look further than the city's Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, where eminent domain was recently used to take property despite several lawsuits filed by area residents.

"If you depend on the courts, you're not going to win," he said. "If they're going to win, they're going to win in the court of public opinion."

Winning the support of public officials could be a tough sell, however. Though several elected officials have publicly called for the fair treatment of business owners, support for redevelopment is nearly unanimous and even the most adamant advocate for the businesses, City Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst), refuses to take eminent domain off the table.

Astoria NY Times-Ledger: http://www.timesledger.com

Camden defends use of eminent domain: Cherry Hill NJ Courier Post, 5/10/07

By Alan Guenther

Attorneys representing the city of Camden [NJ] were in state appeals court Wednesday, defending the right to use eminent domain to move an affordable housing project forward.

The court arguments were heard one day after a City Council election in which eminent domain was a key issue. Reformers who wanted, for the most part, to ban the practice were defeated.

The Michaels Development Co. of Marlton is building affordable housing in two phases. The first phase, consisting of 78 townhouses, is being built at 21st and Hayes streets in Cramer Hill.

The project drew scrutiny from the FBI in February. When Randy Primas was the head of the city's redevelopment agency, the agency voted to transfer ownership of the property to a nonprofit organization headed by Primas.

Then, after receiving a $30,000 administrative fee, the nonprofit group entered into a lease deal with Michaels.

Primas has denied any wrongdoing, saying the nonprofit of which he was chairman was merely trying to cut red tape and move the deal forward.

But after Wednesday's court appearance, Olga Pomar, an attorney for South Jersey Legal Services, said she wondered whether the city would keep Primas' promise not to take additional homes from residents in the area to expand the project.

"There are now 43 homeowners sitting, wondering, when the ax is going to fall," said Pomar.

Attorney William DeSantis, representing the city, said that there has been a change of administrations. In January, Primas stepped down from his jobs as chief operating officer for the city and as chairman of the redevelopment agency.

The new chief operating officer, Theodore Z. Davis, has not yet revealed what the plans are for redeveloping Cramer Hill, DeSantis said.

"The city's options are open if it wants to acquire additional units," said DeSantis. The original plan by Michaels, he said, was to build 162 units, which could have included taking homes from 43 people who didn't want to sell.

The appeals court typically takes several months to render a decision.

Cherry Hill NJ Courier Post: http://www.courierpostonline.com

Cook holds out eminent domain as last resort: El Paso TX Times, 5/10/07

By Darren Meritz

Downtown El Paso revitalization can be accomplished without the use of eminent domain, Mayor John Cook said Wednesday at a luncheon of the Central Business Association.

Cook, however, said after the presentation that he would not propose removing from the Downtown plan the potential use of eminent domain - a major sticking point for some opponents to the redevelopment project.

Eminent domain "is not going to be taken off the table because we're going to follow what the state law prescribes," Cook said before an estimated 100 members of the association.

"We'll find other ways to get the project done."

Cook said the results of an El Paso Times/NewsChannel 9 Poll published Wednesday - which indicates 62 percent of city voters oppose use of eminent domain for Downtown revitalization - should temper any city efforts to use it if it ever came up.

State law allows Texas cities to use eminent domain in blighted areas. The state Legislature is considering a measure that would more specifically define blight as abandoned, unsafe or uninhabitable properties that could be polluted, unsafe because of the threat of natural disaster, environmentally contaminated or the site of repeated illegal activity.

Walter Kim, an opponent of the Downtown plan and president of the Korean Chamber of Commerce of El Paso, said the city should make clear what it considers blighted or remove eminent domain from consideration.

"Nobody in El Paso knows what's going on, exactly," Kim said. "They don't even tell us the definition of blighted."

Cook said he expected the city to begin the residential component of the Downtown plan - which calls for subsidized and market-rate housing around the Magoffin district just east of the El Paso County Courthouse - sometime this summer.

"I hope they'll take note that we didn't use eminent domain to get (the residential component) accomplished," Cook said.

El Paso TX Times: http://origin.elpasotimes.com

City begins eminent domain process: Highland CA Community News, 5/9/07

By Michael Sorba

City Council members voted 4-0 Tuesday night, with Councilwoman Penny Lilburn absent, to file eminent domain proceedings to acquire three pieces of property they say are needed to make street improvements at Victoria and Highland avenues.

The city is attempting to acquire one piece of property at Tony's Jewelry and Loan, a pawn shop at 26492 Highland Ave. owned by Richard and Darlien To.

The other two pieces of property the city wants to acquire are owned by Balbir Jhawar. One of the pieces includes the Arco gas station Jhawar owns at the northwest corner of Highland and Victoria avenues.

The city wants the piece of property to remove it and install a southbound right-turn lane on Victoria Avenue.

Jhawar's attorney, Roger Walker, acted as his spokesman during Tuesday's Council meeting. “The proposed construction is not a minor inconvenience,” Walker told the Council. “It will cause irreparable harm to the business. Approval of this decision would put Mr. Jhawar out of business.”

Walker says if the chunk of the station is removed and replaced with a right-turn lane fuel delivery trucks will no longer have access to the station, effectively eliminating Jhawar's ability to run a gas station business.

The city notified Jhawar of its intention around six months ago, Walker said. City Engineer Ernie Wong said an appraisal offer has been made for the piece of property itself, but a “good will” appraisal that provides a dollar amount for the impact on the business has not been made.

Jhawar says a gas station typically costs about $1.5 million to establish and that is the dollar amount he would like from the city. However, he says city officials have instructed him not to disclose what dollar amounts have been discussed in negotiations. “I'd be awfully surprised of they (city) came with that amount ($1.5 million),” said Walker.

“Negotiations are still taking place,” said Wong. “No amount has been finalized.”

The Council's staff report says the properties are needed due to “public interest and necessity.” They will allow the city to widen Victoria Avenue south to Highland Avenue and provide curb, gutter and sidewalk for Highland Avenue west of Victoria Avenue.

The improvements will accommodate the increase in traffic that has resulted from development of the city and the expansion of San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino that have occurred over the past five years, Wong said.

Highland CA Community News: http://www.highlandnews.net

Public advocate urges eminent domain changes: Cherry Hill NJ Courier-Post, 5/8/07

By Michael Rispoli

The battle over whether reforms need to be made to eminent domain - when the government seizes private land for redevelopment - continued Monday, as the state's public advocate appeared before the Senate budget committee calling for major changes.

Government can take land it deems to be blighted - defined under current law as stagnant or not fully productive - in favor of private redevelopment. Opponents say it's far too easy for the government to take land without much review. Landowners who want to fight eminent domain proceedings must show evidence against such designation.

Public Advocate Ronald K. Chen said the burden of proof should be flipped - that municipalities should have to present evidence to designate land for acquisition. He's championing a much stricter definition to "curtail abuses of power."

"My feeling is that if that evidence is there and the area is blighted, this really should not be much of a burden on the municipality at all," Chen said. "I don't agree with the proposition that land is blighted simply because the state believes it can be put to a more beneficial, productive use. That seems to me too broad a test which could be used to declare blighted virtually all land of the state."

Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance, R-Clinton Township, Hunterdon County, agreed with Chen, saying the public is "quite appropriately" concerned about government taking over private property "for reasons unrelated to blight."

But eminent domain has been beneficial to urban communities where the redevelopment of land increase revenue in the area, said Senate Majority Leader Bernard F. Kenny, D-Hoboken, the budget committee chairman.

Kenny said a change in the burden of proof would "prevent development, and the courts would end up deciding in every instance what is a blighted property and what is not."

Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Paulsboro, sponsor of the Assembly bill, said that despite the debate over language he is confident a compromise would be reached soon. He expects the bill to be approved by both houses of the Legislature by the fall.

Cherry Hill NJ Courier-Post: http://www.courierpostonline.com

ECUA considers eminent domain: Pensacola FL News Journal, 5/8/07

By Jamie Page

The Emerald Coast Utilities Authority [ECUA] is considering using eminent domain to take a small property for one of the many steps in relocating the Main Street wastewater treatment plant.

ECUA staff believe the utility could need to take the property against the owner's will and pay the owner fair market value. So to stay on the five-year timetable put on the FEMA money for the $300 million project, ECUA has to be prepared to use eminent domain if needed, said Rich Barlow, an attorney for ECUA.

The odoriferous plant has to be moved and the project complete by September 2009.

Moving it means a lot more than building a new facility more centrally located in the county. For one thing, sewer lift stations will be required to move wastewater because the flow will need to be transported against natural gravity flow to the new plant site. A lift station uses a pump to move liquid sewage uphill.

An ECUA study performed by consulting engineers identified the best route for the transmission lines and the best locations for lift stations. The ideal site for a regional station the study says is 1750 N. Palafox St., a property ECUA is having trouble purchasing.

So it may have to use eminent domain, and they'll ask the city council's permission Thursday. ECUA is required to get approval by the council to use eminent domain within the city, according to state enabling legislation that created ECUA.

The property is the site of the old Medical Center Clinic building; now vacant since suffering heavy hurricane damages.

ECUA needs a small portion of the land but not the building, ECUA board chairman W. Logan Fink said in a letter to the city.

The property was previously owned by Service Metro Corp. and was the subject of foreclosure proceedings in state court. Legal inquiry revealed there may be liens on the property, Barlow said. Because a clear title hasn't been established, it has made it difficult to buy it from its previous owner.

Palafox Partners LTD now owns the property, but ECUA has not yet made an offer to that company.

A recent appraisal done for ECUA says the property, including the building, is valued at $1.2 million.

Said Councilman Mike DeSorbo: "This has definite impacts on the movement of that plant. We need to do what we need to do."

Pensacola FL News Journal: http://www.pensacolanewsjournal.com

Eminent domain suit filed: Kane County Chronicle, Geneva IL, 5/9/07

By Kelley Casino

The city [of St Charles MO) says that it hasn’t been able to strike a deal for land that cuts through the site for a proposed Wal-Mart and has filed a lawsuit to seize the property.

In the lawsuit filed last week, the city seeks to condemn 2.88 acres on the city’s east side to build a road connecting Foxfield Drive and Smith Road, according to court documents.

The road would bisect a 30-acre parcel where a more than 200,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter is proposed.

City officials have acknowledged that Wal-Mart would not be able to build the store as presented if the road was built, but added that the intent of the road was not to stop the Wal-Mart but to increase traffic circulation.

Wal-Mart’s market manager Roderick Scott deferred comment until later this week, saying his team needed a chance to review the lawsuit for condemnation before responding to the city’s actions.

In the complaint, the city contends that it has been “unable to agree upon just compensation for the subject property,” and seeks to have a jury to determine a fair price.

Legally, governments are allowed to seize private property for public benefit with fair compensation.

The average condemnation, or eminent domain, case takes 18 months to three years to complete, city attorney Phil Luetkehans said. Either side can appeal a decision.

Approval was given in February to negotiate with the property’s land owner, and after talks failed, the St. Charles City Council voted in April to go ahead with eminent domain to seize the land.

The complaint is filed against West Suburban Bank, as trustee under a 1981 trust agreement, and other “unknown owners.”

Kane County Chronicle, Geneva IL: http://www.kcchronicle.com

Henry takes heat for eminent domain purchase of battlefield: Atlanta GA Journal-Constitution, 5/8/07

By Eric Sturgis

The tranquil stretch of rolling farmland in the northern tip of Henry County [Georgia] offers no hints of its bloody past.

In 1864, shortly after the Battle of Atlanta, Union soldiers rode to the Nash family farm, looking to destroy Confederate supply lines.

The Rebels surrounded the Union troops, and more than 500 soldiers from each side died in the battle at the farm, known as Kilpatrick's Raid.

Today, a new battle is being fought over the Nash family farm.

More than two years after the county plunked down $8 million to buy the farm — with the grand vision of turning it into a park commemorating the battle — some residents are second-guessing that decision.

They're upset that the county used eminent domain laws to buy the land, and argue the money could have been used to improve traffic or build schools in what is one of the nation's fastest-growing counties.

Opponents are using the Internet to spread their message, and the debate, it seems, is popping up everywhere — from lunch counters to community meetings.

McDonough resident Jason Pye is leading the charge.

In many ways, Pye is a son of the South. A native Georgian, he loves football — on Saturdays — and, of course, sweet tea and chopped barbecue. Initially, he supported the preservation effort.

But Pye's taste for the project quickly changed. He grew angry about the price and wasn't pleased that the county used eminent domain laws to force the sale.

So he's been using his personal Web site to criticize the preservation plans.

"It's over. The South lost. Let it go. Until people accept that, people are going to continue to spend money honoring slavery," said Pye, 26, who is white. "That's morally wrong."

Barbara Torbett, a longtime community activist, is another critic.

"Are we going to buy all the property that has historical significance?" she said. "And what is historically significant?"

Supporters, though, say the farm was worth every penny.

"We're starved down here [for parkland]," said Sharon Sagon, who went to an Easter egg hunt last month at the park. "It's just one of the greatest things that's happened on this side of Henry County."

The Nash Farm Battlefield is perfectly located for a subdivision.

To the east, you'll find a golf-course community, several subdivisions and a retail shopping center. A couple of miles to the west is busy U.S. 19/41.

The Nash family farm was the site of five military actions, according to Civil War historians. Yet, the farm's military history was largely unknown until late 2005, when its owner, auto dealer Maxie Price, approached the county with his plan to build 399 homes on the 204-acre site.

The plan would include some appropriate memorial to the battle, he pledged.

Henry County Commissioner Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis, whose district includes the farm, had a different idea.

She envisioned a park with walking trails and a museum with bullets, breastplates and other artifacts found on the farm.

The county negotiated with Price. He wanted $10 million. The county appraised the property at $4.1 million, according to Mathis. Unable to swing a deal, county commissioners used Georgia's eminent domain laws to force Price to sell them the land.

An attorney assigned to hear the dispute ruled the property was worth $8 million. The county paid that amount, but it's now asking a judge to lower the price.

At first, there was little grumbling about the deal. Over the years, the metal mouths of bulldozers have turned many Georgia battlefields into subdivisions. In Paulding County, a Confederate artillery battery site became the Summer Hill subdivision. The trenches of a Tennessee infantry were leveled for a shopping center.

At the time the county bought the land, Pye and others were busy protesting a plan by Henry's largest city, Stockbridge, to use eminent domain laws to buy businesses, tear them down and re-create its downtown.

After the shouting in Stockbridge ended late last year, Pye and others turned their attention to the Nash Farm.

"The cost was outrageous," said Pye, who is active in Libertarian circles and maintains his own political blog. "Most people feel it could had been used in better places."

Mathis disagrees.

"You don't often have a chance to acquire a historic battlefield," said Mathis, who is looking for grants to bring life to her vision for the property. "The majority of citizens are in full support of its acquisition."

Sagon, known for the elaborate Christmas decoration displays at her home, has had friends call her in recent months criticizing the purchase.

She doesn't get the complaints.

"If we don't remember our past, we are going to repeat it in the future," she said. "I think [preserving the property would] do more to educate the people than drive a wedge in it."

And so, the Nash farm remains a battlefield — in more ways than one.

Atlanta GA Journal-Constitution: http://www.ajc.com

Court Reviews Agency’s Approval Of Atlantic Yards Project: Brooklyn NY Daily Eagle, 5/7/07

By Sarah Ryley

A Manhattan judge heard oral arguments yesterday afternoon in the latest lawsuit to challenge the proposed 22-acre Atlantic Yards development project for Central Brooklyn.

The plaintiffs in the case DDDB et. al. v. ESDC et. al include 26 groups ranging from neighborhood block associations to the Sierra Club. They are basing their case on what they say are deficiencies in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) issued for the project by the Empire State Development Project (ESDC). They cite the failure to look into the threat of terrorism as one such deficiency. In addition to the ESDC, a state agency, the developer Forest City Ratner Companies, the Public Authorities Control Board and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority are all named as defendants. FCRC Executive Vice President Bruce Bender has said that the lawsuit is without merit, and is simply another tactic to derail the multi-use project. It would include an arena for the Nets basketball team, housing and office space.

The lawsuit also seeks a declaration that a privately-leased and operated sports arena does not meet the definition of a “civic project” under a state act that gives the ESDC power to issue bonds and grant tax abatements, condemn land and seize property through eminent domain, and to overrule local zoning laws without acquiring legislative approval.

The ESDC has used its authority to spur private development in the past. The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and the redevelopment of Times Square, which both used eminent domain, and the World Trade Center Memorial Fund are a few examples.

But the lawsuit contends that “the home of a professional sports team and commercial venue [is] by no stretch of the imagination a ‘facility for educational, cultural, recreational, community, municipal, public service or other municipal purposes.’”

Supporters of the project have argued that the affordable housing and jobs it provides would also serve a civic purpose. If the lawsuit is successful, the controversial high-rise project would have to start the entire review and approval process over again, which could take years.

Brooklyn NY Daily Eagle: http://www.brooklyneagle.com

Kenny - Shifting the Burden of Proof in Eminent Domain Would be 'Litigation Nightmare': Politics NJ, Trenton NJ, 5/7/07

Senate Majority Leader and Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Bernard F. Kenny, Jr., D-Hudson, today said that he strongly objects to State Public Advocate Ronald K. Chen's proposal that transparency in eminent domain can only be achieved by shifting the burden of proof from landowners to public entities, after the Senate Budget and Appropriations panel's hearing with the Department of the Public Advocate.

Senator Kenny argued that shifting the burden of proof would create a "litigation nightmare" in the State that would paralyze development.

The issue of eminent domain is a critical one, one that Public Advocate Chen has made clear that he considers a priority. Eminent domain has been used as a tool for tremendous growth in New Jersey, especially in many of the urban areas where we have seen a dramatic renaissance. I agree with Mr. Chen that reform is necessary in the area of compensation because now, owners are paid for the current use of the property, and no increase is given on the proposed value and use of the land post-revitalization.'

I also agree that the process should be more transparent - public and private land owners deserve to be kept abreast of issues affecting their property. Transparency procedures are in need of reforms that will make the process more open, more public and should be enhanced and improved.

Mr. Chen argues that transparency relies on the shifting of the burden of proof to municipalities, which is a legal matter. The eminent domain process can be made more transparent without having to change the burden of proof. Changing the burden of proof has nothing to do with transparency and would have a significant negative impact on allowing municipalities to use eminent domain.

Politics NJ, Trenton NJ: http://www.politicsnj.com

Greer might play hardball for land: Spartanburg SC Herald, 5/6/07

By Jessica De Vault

A triangular-shaped parcel of land could be the last roadblock keeping Greer [SC] from moving forward with the construction of its municipal complex and park.

The city plans to use its power of eminent domain if property owner Charlene Snow doesn't settle for the appraised value of the land, city officials said.

Snow's business, the Wolfe Real Estate Agency, sits on the property.

In an e-mail response, City Administrator Ed Driggers said the parcel, no larger than about 2,700 square feet, is part of the forthcoming park. The appraised value was less than $25,000, he said.

$25,000 vs. $57,000
The city offered Snow $25,000.

"We attempted to negotiate for the purchase of the entire property, but could not come to terms for a price," Driggers said. "We then modified our construction plans to include only what we must have."

The price Snow requested was more than double the land's appraised value, Driggers said.

"The owner had a separate appraisal done which valued the land at approximately $27,000. She, however, contends she has consequential damage and is demanding approximately $57,000," Driggers said. "We disagree with the consequential damage claim."

Snow did not return numerous phone calls seeking comment.

City Attorney John Duggan said the city has had to exercise eminent domain before for this project.

"We had one prior property owner that we initially couldn't reach an agreement with in regards to the property value," Duggan said, referring to a parcel of land that will be the site of the new city hall. "Eminent domain was initiated by the city. The parties agreed to mediate the issue. At mediation, an agreement was reached concerning the value of the property."

The city's municipal complex and park is a $20.6 million project that will include a new city hall, police and courts building and park, all to be constructed downtown. If the project moves forward as scheduled, construction can be completed within 18 months, city officials said.

Spartanburg SC Herald: http://www.goupstate.com

Businesses battling eminent domain: San Diego CA Union-Tribune, 5/5/07

By Tanya Sierra

For 50 years Ray Brock supported his family by running an auto body shop on 11th Street and National City Boulevard [in National City CA]. He built up a clientele base so loyal it includes generations of families and a couple who travel more than 40 miles from Ramona for repairs.

Humberto Rodriguez Sr. bought Ray Brock Auto Service six years ago from Ray Brock, who still owns the land.

But the future of Ray Brock Auto Service is in limbo. National City is trying to take over the property using eminent domain, an authority it is preparing to extend for 12 years.

Eminent domain, the government's ability to take “blighted” private land to make way for new development, has polarized property owners around the country, prompting ballot initiatives and protests aimed at curtailing the power.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2005 to uphold a Connecticut city's right to evict homeowners to make way for a waterfront project jump-started anti-eminent domain movements elsewhere. That decision stated that private economic development benefits the public as much as public projects do.

In California, cities are banding together to sponsor a statewide ballot measure that would strip some of their condemnation authority to appease special interest groups, which could propose more stringent limits through their own measure.
Background: National City's eminent domain authority expires in August.
What's changing: City officials set a public hearing for June 19 to renew the power for 12 years.
The future: National City is involved in five condemnation cases to clear the way for condominium towers on National City Boulevard.

Last June, voters in Chula Vista approved an initiative that restricts the city's ability to use eminent domain.

In National City, officials are using eminent domain to force out Brock and four other business owners.

His auto body shop may not fit the city's upscale vision for redevelopment, but Brock said his business is a viable one.

“It's not a pretty business,” Brock said. “But we've fed our families for a lot of years on it.”

The City Council set a hearing for June 19, when it will take public comment and vote on extending the authority that expires in August.

The city can use eminent domain to obtain blighted commercial, industrial or vacant and abandoned properties. It negotiates to buy at fair-market value. If an owner refuses to sell, the city can get a court order forcing a sale.

In the past three years, city officials have used eminent domain to clear out several bars and other businesses on National City Boulevard, where an education center replaced an adult bookstore and the Pussycat Theater, which showed X-rated movies.

Although officials say they seldom need a court order, they are involved in five condemnation cases.

Near 11th Street and National City Boulevard, Brock and two other businesses – a dry cleaner and a car lot – are refusing to sell or are still negotiating with developer Jim Beauchamp. He is proposing Park Village – 227 condominiums in a 24-story building.

One block south, the Eagles fraternal organization and a plumbing-and-heating business are battling to keep property from being sold to developers Sam Ynzunza and Eric Chaves of ARE Holdings. That project, The Cove at San Diego Bay, is a proposed 16-story condominium tower.

Brock sold his business to Humberto Rodriguez Sr. six years ago but still owns the land. He said fighting eminent domain for three years has been draining. “My tenant makes a living here,” Brock said. “For him, he don't know where he's going to be in six months or a year from now. That's a terrible cloud to live under for the last three years.”

Beauchamp offered Rodriguez and Brock rental space in one of his other properties, but Brock said he didn't like the locations.

“There's always a loss of business when you move,” Brock said. “We bought this property close to National (City Boulevard) because that's where we want to be.”

Brock and other small-business owners say the city's haste to shut them down can create blight. In some cases, Brock said, buildings in areas slated for redevelopment have sat vacant as developers finalize planning, financing and permits.

Although the city's eminent domain authority does not apply to residential property, residents have objected each time the issue has come up in recent years.

The condemnation debate turned especially rancorous in 2003, when the council tried expanding the eminent domain zone to include nearly the entire city. City officials and staff held numerous public hearings and workshops, and created giant maps of the city so the community could visualize the affected areas.

Residents still objected, and the city scrapped the plan in December 2005.

City officials say renewing their eminent domain authority is a routine aspect of redevelopment.

“Why wouldn't we,” asked Brad Raulston, the city's redevelopment director. We want “to maintain the authority to do redevelopment, which has proven to be a positive thing for the city.”

San Diego CA Union-Tribune: http://www.signonsandiego.com

Unusual Eminent Domain Action at CUNY: New York NY Sun, 5/11/07

By Eliot Brown

An unusual eminent domain dispute between two semi-public entities is brewing at the City University of New York's (CUNY) City College campus, where the university wants to construct two new science buildings next to a highly regarded biological research center. In order to build, the university is seeking to use its power of condemnation to void a provision of a lease, an action the biology center strongly protests.

As part of a plan to create a state-of-the-art science corridor on the campus, CUNY wants to erect two new research and teaching buildings just adjacent to the New York Structural Biology Center, a nonprofit, federally funded medical research facility that leases its land from the university.

The construction would create vibrations that would render the sensitive research technology at the biology center unusable, likely for a period of more than six months. A provision in the lease specifically bars CUNY from disrupting the operations, and as such, the university is currently seeking permission from the state to use eminent domain to nullify that provision, allowing it to go forward with the construction.

"It's a very bizarre use of eminent domain and not very collegial," the chief operating officer at the biology center, Willa Appel, said.

By disrupting the operations, Ms. Appel said the university would threaten millions of dollars in grants that the center has received, all with the expectation that research would not be completed within a set timeframe.

"The whole grant pipeline on which the research depends will be severely interrupted," Ms. Appel said.

While the university acknowledges the disruption and would compensate the biology center, its vice chancellor for academic affairs, Selma Botman, said the greater good that would come from the new buildings would outweigh the temporary disruption.

"There is a real difference between a few months of temporary hiatus and the ability to offer CUNY students, most of whom come from modest families and are from underrepresented groups, a world-class scientific education," Ms. Botman said.

A professor at Brooklyn Law School, David Reiss, said that while CUNY, as a government entity, has the power to invoke eminent domain, its decision to nullify this small portion of the lease is unusual. It seems that the university "is condemning something tiny that makes the entire rest of the interests of the scientific institute completely useless," Mr. Reiss said.

New York NY Sun: http://www.nysun.com

Citizens' group keeps up eminent-domain fight: Roanoke VA Times, 5/11/07

The group, formed to oppose a cargo terminal, still wants to see a land ordinance passed

By Tim Thornton

Salem [VA] has offered to host Norfolk Southern's intermodal rail yard, but a Montgomery County group that formed to keep the train and truck cargo terminal out of Elliston isn't packing up yet.

"I think we need to continue our fight as if it were being built in Elliston," Dan Burroughs said at a Thursday evening meeting that drew 20 people to Lafayette United Methodist Church. "When they start building the thing in Salem, then we can have a party."

Citizens for the Preservation of our Countryside is still urging the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors to pass an ordinance that would make it illegal for corporations to use eminent domain - the power to buy private land even if the owner doesn't want to sell - in Montgomery County. It would declare "natural communities and ecosystems" to be "persons" in legal issues and declare that corporations are not "persons" in Montgomery County.

It would forbid corporations - along with their agents, directors, officers, owners or managers - from contributing to political candidates in the county. It would also make it illegal for corporations to sue for "future profits."

Shireen Parsons, the Virginia organizer for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit group leading a movement against the practice of treating corporations as people before the law, helped organize the Montgomery County group. She asserted Thursday that the ordinance would allow Blacksburg to prohibit big-box stores such as Wal-Mart. Developers sued the town hours earlier, seeking to protect their right to build a big box.

Citizens for the Preservation of our Countryside has decided to change tactics.

"Until we've got something else to say, we're not going to get up and make any speeches," Burroughs said.

Burroughs said Supervisor Jim Politis told him the board already understands the group's position, so continuing to hammer on it may be counterproductive.

Burroughs also said Politis has agreed to bring the ordinance to the board, which has passed three resolutions against the Elliston site, if another supervisor will join him. Next week Burroughs plans to talk to Supervisor Gary Creed, whose district includes the site where Norfolk Southern wants to build the intermodal yard.

Not everyone was enthusiastic. Martha Orrick, Joyce Graham and Michael Hemphill, who were working against the intermodal plans months before Citizens for the Preservation of our Countryside formed, took issue with tactics, tone and goals.

Hemphill formally disassociated himself from the group, saying he can't endorse Parsons' confrontational rhetoric.

Roanoke VA Times: http://www.roanoke.com

Online Video highlights Eminent Domain Abuse Against NJ Family Business: Americans for Prosperity, 5/11/07

News release

The New Jersey chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP) today released an online video chronicling a wrongful eminent domain case that could lead to the eviction on Tuesday of Manny Amaral and his family from their auto dealership - just so the city government can transfer their property to private condo developers.

Manny and Fran Amaral came to the United States from Portugal more than 30 years ago. In the years since, the Amarals have worked hard, paid their taxes, played by the rules, and ultimately achieved that American Dream. Today they own Aramal Auto Sales in Harrison, NJ, with their two sons. But now the city government is planning to seize the Amaral's property so a developer can knock down their family business and build condos.

"If a well-managed, successful dealership full of BMWs, Cadillacs, Lexuses, Audis, Mercedes, and even Lamborghinis can be declared 'blight,' condemned and taken by the government under an abusive and wrongful claim on 'eminent domain,' then anybody's property can be condemned," said Steven Lonegan, Director of Americans for Prosperity's New Jersey chapter.

AFP's online video, which can be viewed on YouTube at

includes a call to contact New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine and their state lawmakers and features emotional pleas from Manny and Fran Amaral in front of the Statue of Liberty.

"I remember seeing the Statue, and my sister...turned to me and said, 'We are in America!' with a big smile on her face, and we both hugged...and said 'Yes! Finally!'" Mrs. Amaral explains in the video. "But now I look at this Statue, and it brings me tears."

"Some people (back in Portgual) have the wrong idea about America, and I always defend this country with all my heart and with all my love," Manny Amaral said. "Now I have very mixed feelings because I believed in all the things that I've been told and I've read and I've seen about freedom in the country, but the last couple of years I've seen a side of this country that I can't believe is going on. This is a nightmare..."

AFP is a grassroots organization committed to advancing individualss rights to economic freedom and opportunity. AFP believes reducing the size and scope of government is the best safeguard to ensuring individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans. AFP educates and engages citizens in support of restraining state and federal government growth, and returning government to its constitutional limits.

Americans for Prosperity: http://www.americansforprosperity.org

Jurors justified in eminent domain verdict, plaintiff says: South Coast Standard-Times, New Bedford MA, 5/11/07

By Brian Boyd

The plaintiff in an eminent domain case Thursday filed a written response in federal court to the town's [Wareham MA] attempt to reduce the $1.1 million it owes.

Lawyers for property owner Barbara Deighton Haupt assert a U.S. District Court jury was justified in awarding more money for land the town took in 2003 to expand Swifts Beach.

The town has a difficult standard to meet in order to have the verdict set aside, and it fails to meet that standard, said Jeffrey Angley, Mrs. Haupt's attorney, in an interview.

"There was more than sufficient evidence to support the jury's finding," Mr. Angley said.

Now it's up to Judge Rya Zobel, who presided over the five-day trial, to either make a decision based on the written submissions or schedule a hearing, he said.

The town's lawyer, Richard Bowen, could not be reached for comment.

Jurors said on April 18 the 5.35 acres were worth $1.55 million, while the town had paid Mrs. Haupt $450,000. The town's attorneys later field a motion asking Judge Zobel to reduce the amount or grant a new trial, arguing there was no basis for the dollar figure jurors chose.

Since the amount was unfounded, the town's lawyers wrote, "it is clear that the jury was confused or misled by the evidence before it when making its award."

Selectmen Chairwoman Brenda Eckstrom said it's premature to say how the town will proceed.

Selectmen have not yet received information on Mrs. Haupt's response, nor have they made any decisions on how to pay for the verdict, since it's not final, Mrs. Eckstrom said.

"It's not in our best interest to even decide how to pay until we know what we're paying for," she said.

Mr. Angley said the town owes $108,502 in interest on the amount, accrued between the land taking and the verdict, in addition to the $1.1 million balance.

During the trial, the town argued the land was worth $730,500, assuming a duplex could be built there, based on a reappraisal.

Mrs. Haupt's legal team presented different potential values, ranging from $3.1 million, based on the assumption that a beach club with building could be constructed there, to $1.2 million if the best prospect was for a duplex.

The jurors decided the greatest potential was for a duplex with beachfront and assigned a value. In their motion to alter the verdict, the town's lawyers asked the judge to shave $350,000 off the verdict, bringing it down to the $1.2 million figure given by Mrs. Haupt's expert.

In Thursday's response, Mrs. Haupt's lawyers said the jurors used an approach consistent with the town's own appraiser — dividing the land into a buildable lot and conservation land — but opted for different values on the two sections.

"The jury was certainly free to attribute its own value to this use and there was a wide range of values to choose from," they said in the response.

South Coast Standard-Times, New Bedford MA: http://www.southcoasttoday.com

El Paso faces eminent domain opposition: El Paso TX Times, 5/10/07

By Ramon Bracamontes

El Paso is going through the same stresses that the City of Arlington went through two years ago when it began preparations to build the new Dallas Cowboys stadium and needed the power of eminent domain to get it done.

"If it wasn't for eminent domain, this project would still be stalled and it might have never gotten done," said Roger Venables, real estate service manager for the City of Arlington.

In 2004, the voters in Arlington overwhelmingly voted to spend $325 million in tax money to help build a new Dallas Cowboys stadium in their city.

When it came time to secure the 135 acres needed for the stadium, a handful of property owners - who together owned about 10 percent of the land - refused to sell.

"We didn't need eminent domain to buy the majority of the property," Venable said. "It was the smaller, residential pieces that we needed help with."

Today, the $650 million stadium is under construction and on schedule to open in 2009.

The same debate over the use of eminent domain for revitalization/private projects that occurred in Arlington two years ago is currently going on in El Paso with regards to the Downtown revitalization plan: 74 percent of El Pasoans favor Downtown revitalization, according to an El Paso Times poll. However, the same poll shows that 64 percent of the voters are opposed to the use of eminent domain.

Matthew McElroy, associate director for the Institute for Policy and Economic Development at UTEP, said that public policy on a million-dollar project such as Downtown revitalization should not be based on the results of a poll that had such a small sample.

"Some public policy decisions are more important than the results of one poll," he said. "This project is something that deserves a much harder look."

McElroy, who has studied the revitalization of other cities, said that most keep the use of eminent domain available so that a single property owner cannot stop a major project.

Downtown business owner Jerry Rosenbaum, who heads the Land Grab Opponents, said it is a shame that the plan is proceeding.

"It would be better to take eminent domain completely off the table, try to heal the wounds and then proceed," he said.

He also said it is unfair to compare it to the Dallas Cowboy project.

"I don't agree that a stadium is for public use," he said. "But they also got a waiver to use eminent domain and they started before the law was changed."

The Texas Legislature is currently debating the uses of eminent domain and the definition of what a blighted area is. Under state law, cities right now can use eminent domain for public projects and to get rid of blight.

West-Central city Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who is up for re-election on Saturday, said the Downtown revitalization plan and the use of eminent domain is not a big issue on the campaign trail.

"It's only an issue because some opponents keep talking about the use eminent domain," O'Rourke said.

O'Rourke's opponent, Trini Acevedo, has said in the past that O'Rourke is compromised on the Downtown issue. Acevedo is also listed by the Land Grab Opponents as a candidate who will protect property rights.

South El Paso resident, Juana Espinosa, who lives in the 600 block of S. Oregon, said the Downtown plan is one that residents need to consider before they support it or oppose it.

"There is a lot of misinformation going around and who knows what it will look like," she said, "but if it helps improve the housing and keeps us a community, then we should support it. Improving the quality of life is what it should be about."

The Downtown Revitalization Plan has been debated throughout El Paso for more than a year. The debate began in April, the Paso Del Norte Group unveiled a $750,000 study that led to a blueprint on how Downtown and South El Paso could be revitalized.

The plan calls for a new retail district and improved housing.

The plan immediately drew criticism because it called for the demolition of some buildings and suggested that eminent domain be used to acquire the land needed to make the plan attractive to major developers.

El Paso TX Times: http://www.elpasotimes.com

Lawsuits Dropped After City Vows Not To Use Eminent Domain: NBC-TV12, Jacksonville FL, 5/11/07

Two national advocacy groups dropped lawsuits today against this downtrodden city [of Riviera Beach FL] aimed at stopping one of the nation's largest eminent domain projects after the city said it would not force residents from their homes. The move comes one year after Florida enacted a law that prohibits the use of eminent domain for private development.

Steven Geoffrey Gieseler is an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation. It sued the city on behalf of residents fighting to stay in their homes. He said the fact that Riviera Beach has backed down and decided not to use eminent domain is evidence that the new state law has teeth. The Arlington, Virginia-based Institute for Justice also dropped its lawsuit against the city on behalf of residents. Bert Gall, an attorney with the group, said their clients' rights to keep their homes and businesses has been vindicated.

NBC-TV12, Jacksonville FL: http://www.firstcoastnews.com