Stop Government Abuses of Eminent Domain
National group hopes to limit private abuse of eminent domain powers
Eminent domain is sometimes abused by corrupt governments as a way to grant special privileges to private corporations. Here is a recent news release on this subject, with additions by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Progress Report.
by Ann McFeattersThe Pittsburgh residents and business owners who opposed condemnation of buildings at Fifth and Forbes avenues helped spark the formation of a national group that hopes to block the use of eminent domain to benefit private commercial enterprises.
The Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice, a national nonprofit public interest law firm, said it is forming the "Castle Coalition" to mount a grass-roots campaign aimed at preventing the public taking of private property for private gain.
The concept of government agencies taking property in exchange for market-value payment is as old as the nation but traditionally has been used for public projects, such as highways. Only recently have cities begun to use powers of eminent domain to help private enterprises, citing the jobs and new business they bring.
The institute also reported on "the ten top abuses of eminent domain." Written by Dana Berliner, a senior lawyer with the institute, the report says, "Most people would be shocked to discover that governments across the nation are taking individuals' homes only to transfer that property to a favored business or neighbor, or that businesses are often being condemned so that another business can take their property and make a larger profit."
In Pittsburgh, she said, so many people were outraged that 64 buildings housing 125 businesses were to be condemned for a privately owned redevelopment proposal at Fifth and Forbes that Mayor Tom Murphy agreed not to use eminent domain for the project.
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who ran for president in 2000 as the Green Party candidate, also has been highly critical of the increasing use of eminent domain and is campaigning to prevent Akron, Ohio, from condemning houses and businesses to benefit a Mercedes-Benz auto dealership.
The 10 top "abuses" cited by the institute's report include Toledo, Ohio's, condemnation of 83 homes to make room for the expansion of a Daimler-Chrysler Jeep plant in 1999; condemnation of homes for a private office park designed to help the Pfizer facility in New London Conn., and dislocation of 5,100 residents for commercial and industrial development in Riviera Beach, Fla.
You can view the report here
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