Eminent domain and property rights are back in the news, and this time the news is good.
In Norwood, Ohio, an industrial suburb of Cincinnati, three landowners held out against a proposed land redevelopment project. The city claimed eminent domain, using not “blight” as a justification, but “deteriorating” conditions.
Ohio’s Supreme Court, struck down the overly broad law allowing such a seizure saying
[The law] had become so vague that it was, in effect, “a standardless standard;” and it did not allow property owners the right to appeal the taking until the property was already taken.
According to John Echeverria, director of the Environmental Law and Policy Institute at Georgetown University, ”The ruling makes Ohio one of 10 states whose constitutions prohibit eminent domain simply to expand the tax base.”
Eminent domain is a useful tool. Without it, many people would be without access to roads and utilities. However, using eminent domain to change a neighborhood is so invidious because it’s your government saying to you:
“This would be a better place if only you didn’t live here.”
You don’t have to ponder too long before you can think of the many obvious targets of such an elitist attitude.