Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Rep. Stam introduced the amendment that was killed in committee during the recent short session. We appreciate his persistent support of private property rights.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
“The legislature had the opportunity to provide North Carolina’s property owners with real protection during the recent short session,” Shanahan said. “Unfortunately, their efforts fell far short. Instead of allowing the people to vote on a constitutional amendment that would stand the test of time, the legislature passed a law that can easily be undone by the whims of a future legislature.”
“The people of our state deserve more than this watered-down legislation,” Shanahan continued. “They deserve constitutional protection that will stand the test of time. That’s why we need an amendment to the state constitution to protect our private property from eminent domain abuse.”
“During the recent legislative short session, the House Judiciary 3 Committee refused to hear a bill calling for an amendment to the state constitution to prevent governments from using eminent domain authority to take land for private economic development projects,” Shanahan added. “The bill was sent to the House Rules Committee to die without fair consideration.”
“I’ve heard people say things like, ‘that could never happen in North Carolina’”, Shanahan added. “I’m sure Susette Kelo felt the same way – up until that tragic day when the city of New London, Connecticut decided that a developer could make better use of her home and began the process of seizing it through eminent domain abuse. Property rights are a fundamentally important issue, and North Carolinians cannot take them for granted.”
“The people of North Carolina deserve better protection than the legislature has given them,” Shanahan concluded. “North Carolinians need more than a legislative smokescreen – we need the kind of real protection provided by a constitutional amendment. Our organization will continue to call on the members of the North Carolina General Assembly to do what is right by allowing our citizens to vote on a constitutional amendment to protect our private property from eminent domain abuse. Private property rights are one of the foundational principles of our republic, and this important issue should be addressed as soon as possible.”
Monday, October 23, 2006
RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — The builders of a multibillion-dollar redevelopment project are considering legal action against the state and city after being told eminent domain powers will not be used to seize property to make way for the plan.
Click here for the rest of this story
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Anger Drives Property Rights Measures
PICABO, Idaho — Cheeks chapped, patience thinned, Katie Breckenridge had no trouble making up her mind about an Idaho ballot measure that would make the government pay property owners if zoning rules reduce the value of their land.
“Do I think this is almost swinging the pendulum back too far in the other direction? I do,” said Ms. Breckenridge, 61, a rancher just in from tending to cattle and quarter horses. “But do I think we’ve got to do something to bring the balance back to property rights? I do, and I’m going to vote for it.”
More than a year after Suzette Kelo and several of her neighbors in New London, Conn., lost their battle against eminent domain in the United States Supreme Court, the backlash against the ruling has made property rights one of the most closely watched ballot issues nationwide.
It's hard to imagine that a city would prevent a legitimate place of worship from occupying a building in the United States -- a country founded in large part on the promise of religious tolerance. Yet, that is happening now in Metro Detroit.
In fact, the federal government recently intervened on behalf of Lighthouse Community Church of God in a dispute with the city of Southfield over a building purchased by the church to house its congregation and host religious services. A decision by the federal court in Detroit is pending.
The city of Southfield initially granted and then denied Lighthouse Community Church of God permission to occupy a building it purchased that was used and zoned as a church since 1996. This came about eight months after city representatives gave the church verbal and written approval for the purchase and use of the building and Lighthouse sold its prior house of worship.
In 2004, the certificate of occupancy was denied in favor a proposed $30 million residential gated community. As a result, Lighthouse Community Church of God was shut out of its own building.Click here for more
Unfortunately, North Carolina is not one of those 13 states. Our state's legislative leadership killed a proposed amendment to prevent eminent domain abuse, sending it to a committee to die. Instead of taking the steps to give property owners protection that will stand the test of time, the legislature passed a bill that can easily be undone by a future legislature.
Click here to sign our petition calling for an amendment to the state constitution prohibiting governmental bodies from using eminent domain for economic development purposes.
Some judges are getting the message. On July 26, 2006, the Ohio Supreme Court handed down a stunning unanimous decision against a $125 million development project in a Cincinnati suburb. This case, City of Norwood v. Horney, illustrates how abusive eminent domain seizures are motivated by local governments seeking new sources of revenue.
Click here for the rest of the column
Sowell goes on to dub Riviera Beach's approach "socialism for the rich."
Click here for the column
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Earlier this year, the legislative leadership killed a bill calling for a constitutional amendment to protect our private property from eminent domain abuse, instead passing a legislative "solution" that simply isn't strong enough. If the legislature had not killed this bill -- a bill that had more sponsors in the House than the number of votes required for its passage in that same chamber -- this amendment would appear on our ballot (either this November or in a future election).
North Carolina property owners need a constitutional amendment to protect our property rights. An amendment will stand the test of time and is not easily changed by the whims of future poll-driven legislative bodies. If you agree, please sign our petition calling for this amendment.
It's the house that her husband built, where her children grew up and her grandchildren come to play.
Princess Wells is not about to give it up.
Not without a fight, at least.
Wells and three other Riviera Beach property owners turned to the courts Tuesday to try to prevent the city from seizing their homes and businesses through eminent domain. They don't want money, just a court order declaring unconstitutional the city taking private property for private development.
Click here for the rest of the article
Related: Riviera to face new eminent-domain suit
Will TTA Use Eminent Domain?
TTA's Gulley says using Kelo-style eminent domain won't happen
RALEIGH — The Triangle Transit Authority, having forgone its pursuit of federal funds for a proposed commuter rail system, instead is planning to work with a developer creating businesses near its 12 planned train stations.
Private-property advocates wonder whether TTA could seize land because North Carolina law allows eminent domain when “it is useful for the purposes of public transportation.” But TTA’s interim director, Wib Gulley, ruled out the possibility that the agency would take any land for private development.
“That’s not something I think is lawful or appropriate,” Gulley said, “so it’s not going to happen.”
Click here for more
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
Residents in the areas of Forsyth County designated for annexation to Winston-Salem should start preparing now for the property-tax bills they will get in September 2007, city officials said yesterday.
Property taxes for the newly annexed residents will increase by 73 percent, from the current 66.6 cents for every $100 of assessed value to a combined $1.15 for every $100.
Winston-Salem has the second-highest tax rate in Forsyth County. Kernersville has the highest combined tax rate.
On top of the increase, the new residents will be billed for 21 months of taxes.
Robin Megela was surprised to hear yesterday that she would owe that much come September 2007.
Two bills will come to her house at that time: one for city and county taxes owed during the 12-month period from July 2007 to June 2008, and another for just the city taxes owed during the nine months from October 2006 to June 2007.
After living in Pfafftown, an unincorporated community, for 17 years, Megela will officially be living in Winston-Salem on Sept. 30 as a result of annexation. She's not happy about it, citing concerns about possible sewage costs, her satisfaction with the way things are as a county resident - and the new taxes.
"We got the raw end of the stick," she said. "We were very happy with what we have."
Click here for the rest of the story
Property: Losing it to the first brute who comes along
Tuesday, September 19, 2006, 5:00-6:00p.m.
Lynch Auditorium, Lundy-Fetterman School of Business
Campbell University, Buies Creek, N.C.
Patrick K. Hetrick served as Dean of the School of Law at Campbell University from 1987 to 1998. He received his J.D. magna cum laude from the Marquette University Law School, where he was a member of the law review. He practiced law in Milwaukee before returning to Marquette University as a professor of law and associate university legal counsel. In 1978, he joined the law faculty at Campbell University. He is the revising co-author of Webster's Real Estate Law in North Carolina and the co-author of North Carolina Real Estate for Brokers and Salesmen.
Professor Hetrick has delivered well over one hundred CLE presentations and is the author of numerous CLE manuscripts. A past member of the General Statutes Commission and a past Vice President of the North Carolina Bar Association, he is currently serving on several North Carolina Bar Association and American Bar Association committees and is the Chair of the ABA Section on Legal Education's Continuing Education Committee. Professor Hetrick also serves as a member of both American Bar Association and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation committees.
Professor Hetrick will speak on the relationship between the rule of law and private property.
Please RSVP to Nancy Ezzell at 910-893-1380 or firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, September 18, 2006. An open reception will follow the lecture.
From the Tahoe Daily Tribune:
Working on a tight timeline, the South Tahoe Redevelopment Agency took an initial big step Tuesday toward using eminent domain on five parcels holding out from selling to a private developer that plans to build a $410 million convention center complex near Stateline.
Click here for the rest of the story...
Click here for the rest of the story
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Burgaw | Negotiations for land for a new high school in Pender County may be ongoing, but so is the county school board's pursuit to take the land through the process of eminent domain.
The school board's latest move to buy about 26 acres for the site of the new Topsail High School off U.S. 17 in Hampstead was getting the board of commissioners' approval to earmark nearly $1.5 million to initiate condemnation proceedings. Commissioners unanimously approved the amount during their Tuesday morning meeting.
"Unfortunately I'm unable to tell you today we have negotiated a contract," said schools Superintendent Ted Kaniuka. "We believe we've run out of options. We're ready to go."
About two weeks ago, the owner of the property, Wilmington developer Jim McFarland, said he believed the two sides would soon sign a contract. But school officials have said they have yet to see a satisfactory contract.
This is the latest in negotiations that have dragged on for more than a year, holding up construction of the new high school. The school will alleviate crowding at Topsail High, which will turn into a middle school, allowing the current middle school to turn into the area's much-needed third elementary school.
One reason the school system has been eyeing this particular tract is because of its proximity to the current high school. If the new school is built on McFarland's land, existing athletic facilities can be used, saving the schools the cost of constructing new facilities.
A major holdup in contract negotiations has been an assurance from McFarland of sewer service, school officials say. The school system has to have a guarantee of sewer service to get the building project under way.
The school board's condemnation action would take not only the land for the school, but also the 15 acres for sewer.
McFarland plans to build 450 homes and a 500,000-square-foot shopping center on the neighboring 680 acres in Hampstead. His plans include building a wastewater treatment plant to serve the homes and businesses.
By taking the land through eminent domain, the schools would be responsible for the fair market value of what it takes and for any negative impacts on what it doesn't. That could be well in excess of the $1.47 million McFarland wants for the school site if his other developments are forced to scale back.
But time is costing the county money as well, Commissioner David Williams said.
"Every month we delay, we're going to catch it on the back end of construction costs," he said. "I think we need to show a little unity here. It's about the money, yeah, but it's also about where we're supposed to put these kids."
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
By Greg Stohr
Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Officials in Riviera Beach, Florida, needed to act fast. Governor Jeb Bush was poised to sign a bill to limit government seizures of private land, jeopardizing the town's vision for a $2.4 billion waterfront redevelopment.
So city officials called an emergency meeting for May 10, the night before Bush's planned signing. Looking to beat the clock, the City Council approved a contract with the project's developer and promised to use the city's power to take land for public use to secure the necessary property.
Click here to read the editorial
August 12, 2006
The Ohio Supreme Court delivered a unanimous and historic ruling on July 26 that is being heralded as a major victory for property rights and a stinging blow to last year's infamous U.S. Supreme Court Kelo decision, which ruled that local governments can use eminent domain powers to condemn private property for commercial development.
The most immediate beneficiaries of the Ohio ruling are Carl and Joy Gamble of Norwood, Ohio, who faced losing their home of 35 years. They and their neighbors in a tidy Norwood neighborhood were to be evicted by Norwood officials in favor of a developer who had plans to replace their homes with a condominium-office-shopping complex; the court decision rejected Norwood’s “right” to do so.
The most immediate beneficiaries of the Ohio ruling are Carl and Joy Gamble of Norwood, Ohio, who faced losing their home of 35 years. They and their neighbors in a tidy Norwood neighborhood were to be evicted by Norwood officials in favor of a developer who had plans to replace their homes with a condominium-office-shopping complex; the court decision rejected Norwood’s “right” to do so.Click here for the rest of the article
By Steven Greenhut
The Orange County Register
As a rule, the freer the society, the more easily understood and straightforward its laws and constitution. The meaning of the First Amendment is pretty clear to most anyone, but it takes a decoder ring - or the judgment of an elite group of government regulators - to explain whether one is in violation of the USA Patriot Act or the Clean Water Act.
Simplicity is the friend of freedom, obfuscation its foe.
And so the enemies of freedom would have us believe that the Constitution's fairly simple words don't precisely matter - only the penumbras and complicated modern interpretations. Which explains why the high court often makes rulings that seem grievously at odds with the founding text. For instance, in Kelo v. City of New London (Conn.), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that cities can take private property and give it to other private parties even though the Fifth Amendment clearly limits such takings to "public uses."
We've all gotten used to this type of thing. But once in a while, clarity and simplicity win out, and judges actually read the words of our founders and apply them as they were meant to be applied. The ruling came in late July, yet I'm still stunned and slightly giddy over it.
A frequently divided Ohio Supreme Court ruled unaminously against an Ohio city that was trying something similar to the issue at the heart of the Kelo case. The city of Norwood invoked eminent domain to take properties from current owners and give them to a developer in order to promote economic development. The new owners would pay more in taxes and provide more desirable uses than the old owners, according to the city.Click here for the rest of the article
Private property is one of the most fundamental rights of citizens in a free society. If you agree that this important right deserves constitutional protection, click here to sign our petition calling for a constitutional amendment that will give us protection that stands the test of time.
The John Locke Foundation's view of why we need an Eminent Domain amendment:
Property rights have received renewed attention in large part because of the Kelo v. City of New London case. In that case, the United States Supreme Court held that the government can seize private property solely for economic development reasons. In other words, if the government can find a better economic use for private property, it can seize it and transfer the property to a private developer. This opinion has sent shockwaves throughout the country. If anything good came out of Kelo, it was putting eminent domain abuse and other property-rights violations (e.g., forced annexation) on policymakers' radar screens.
A Constitutional Amendment is Needed
Eminent domain is the government's power to seize private property for a public use as long as just compensation is provided to the property owner. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution states "Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." After Kelo, the term "public use" basically has been deleted from the U.S. Constitution. Below are some frequently asked questions that demonstrate the need for North Carolina to develop a detailed constitutional amendment to protect against economic development takings and other eminent domain abuses.
- Why does North Carolina need a constitutional amendment instead of legislation?
Even if state statutes protected us from Kelo-type (economic development) takings, a statute can be changed at the whim of political interests. A constitutional amendment is difficult to change and provides the necessary protection. If the U.S. Supreme Court gutted our freedom of speech rights, would we feel comfortable that a state statute protected our freedom of speech? Property rights are fundamental rights that certainly deserve the same type of protection as other rights listed in the Bill of Rights.
- Doesn't North Carolina law already protect us from Kelo-type takings?
Absolutely not. There are local acts (bills passed by the General Assembly affecting a local community) that specifically allow for economic-development takings. North Carolina has a law that allows the state and local governments to use eminent domain to complete revenue bond projects that are designed to promote economic development.
This revenue bond provision is a great example of why an express constitutional prohibition on economic-development takings is necessary. It was so buried in the statutes that legislative research staff for the special House eminent domain committee did not find it until a couple of weeks before the committee's interim report was completed. What other provisions are buried in the statutes?
Most importantly, the state's urban redevelopment law (or "blight" statute) is so broad and subjective that it could allow economic-development takings, if not in name, then in effect. Even a prohibition on economic-development takings may not be enough to protect against the abuse of this law.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Since the coalition's launch, Shanahan has attended a number of events in an effort to educate North Carolinians on the very real dangers of eminent domain abuse. He has attended Republican and Libertarian events, as well as meetings of civic and other non-profit organizations.
The coalition also attempted to reserve a table at the N.C. Democratic Party's convention in High Point, but was told there was no room at the inn.
Sound Transit insisted all the way to the Washington state Supreme Court that posting an agenda four clicks deep into a government Web page is adequate notice of an eminent domain action.
No phone call. No letter. No posting on the property. The law requires notice, but unnoticeable notice such as a Web posting was legally adequate, Sound Transit's lawyers insisted.
And the court bought it.Click here for more
For the fifth time in 25 years, Garner; residents Jack and Carol Metts are seeking to rezone their residential home along N.C. 50.
Since 1969, the couple has operated a popular barber and beauty shop out of their house, cutting the hair of such dignitaries as former Gov. Jim Holshouser.Click here for more
Monday, August 07, 2006
The owner of a gas station won a land dispute with the state Transportation Department this week when a jury awarded $995,000 -- 66 times what the state was offering.
Attorneys for Holmes Oil Co., which owns an Exxon station at the corner of N.C. 55 and N.C. 54, argued that when the state Department of Transportation took more than 3,500 square feet for road work, the gas station would be virtually inaccessible to customers.
"They've taken a convenience store and made it inconvenient," said Emmett Haywood, a Raleigh lawyer who represented Holmes Oil along with Durham lawyer Jay Ferguson. "The DOT wants to put on blinders and say they're just paying for what they're taking and not the damages they're causing."Click here for more
It shifted back to personal property rights in the Buckeye State after a recent Ohio Supreme Court decision rejected economic development as a sufficient reason for taking someone's land.
Click here for more
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FREEDOM RALEIGH BUREAU
RALEIGH — North Carolina landowners won’t be getting any constitutional protection from governments taking their property for private economic development, not this year anyway.Click here for more
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Friday, July 21, 2006
State Senator Neal Hunt (R-Wake) had this to say about the legislation that passed: "A judge can still overrule the law and allow property to be taken for public purpose," said Hunt, R-Wake. "That's a scary thing."
Constitutional Amendment Needed to Protect Private Property
On Tuesday, a State House Committee refused to even hear a bill calling for a constitutional amendment to prevent government from using eminent domain authority to take our private property for economic development purposes. Instead of allowing this important bill to be heard, it was sent to the Rules Committee to die without fair consideration. The legislators who voted to kill this important bill would have you believe that legislation passed earlier during this session ensures that our private property is safe from the long arm of eminent domain; nothing could be further from the truth. That legislation is a mere band-aid, and it does not provide
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
"Property rights are the keystone to liberty. For those of you who are not architects, the keystone is the part of old buildings (particularly tall ones) upon which all the structure relied. If the keystone broke or collapsed, the entire structure would collapse. Protecting the keystone, therefore, was very important to the strength and stability of those buildings.
"In the same way, property rights are the building block upon which the entire structure of liberty rests. If government does not protect property rights, all other freedoms are meaningless. How can that be, you ask?"
Click here for the full column
Why Political Columnists Can Grow Cynical
Every once in a while, I start to think that maybe I'm just too cynical, too quick to look for that self-serving angle when it comes to the world of politics.
Then something happens to bring me back to my senses: The rest of the world just isn't cynical enough.
One of those moments of clarity hit a few weeks ago when the state House approved a measure that would bar local governments from using condemnation proceedings for economic development purposes.
I knew that several House members, especially among the backbench Republican crowd, wanted more than a just a rewrite of state statutes. After all, a simple change of statute by one legislature can easily be undone by a future legislature
After last year's landmark Kelo v. City of New London, Conn., decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, only an amendment to the state constitution would truly bar state or local government from any future property seizures in the name of economic development.
Still, the House took up a bill to ban the practice in statute. After an overwhelming vote in favor, I approached some of the chamber's Republicans to inquire about why they hadn't attempted to amend the legislation to include a constitutional amendment.
Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, a Wake County Republican, smiled and said it was coming. He had a bill calling for a constitutional change. More than 80 of his House colleagues had signed on.
He was confident.
I failed to ask him why in the world he believed that House leaders would pursue what amounts to a superfluous change of statute if a constitutional amendment was in the works.
Oh, cynical me.
Fast-forward a few weeks: A House judiciary committee sends Stam's amendment bill off to a subcommittee for more "study," a sure indicator that someone high up on the legislative food chain doesn't like it. Then, without any subcommittee action, the committee dumps it in the House Rules Committee.
"To me, that sounds like sudden death, and they are going to throw it in the well," says Rep. George Holmes, R-Yadkin, another supporter.
Of course, documenting the legislation's path to bill purgatory doesn't explain why a constitutional change, which appears to enjoy plenty of support among the public, hasn't flown through the legislature.
Among the possible explanations:
-- The North Carolina League of Municipalities doesn't like it, fearing that a debate over a constitutional amendment may open up the state's current condemnation procedures to further tightening. And once tightened in the constitution, reversing the change would be next to impossible.
-- A constitutional amendment would have to be approved by voters. Democrats control the legislature, and they worry that putting the measure on the ballot will energize conservatives and pump up their turnout at the polls.
Some people might say those explanations represent a pretty cynical view of the legislature.
Yes, guilty as charged.
Scott Mooneyham writes for Capitol Press Association. Contact him at email@example.com.
Monday, July 10, 2006
“Sadly, House Bill 1965 does not provide North Carolinians with adequate protection against eminent domain abuse,” Shanahan said. “Legislatures change, and any protection offered by House Bill 1965 can be easily undone by the whims of a future legislature. The people of our state deserve more than this watered-down bill; they deserve constitutional protection that will stand the test of time. That’s why we need an amendment to the state constitution to protect our private property from eminent domain abuse.”
“Just last month, the House Judiciary 3 Committee refused to hear a bill calling for an amendment to the state constitution to prevent governments from using eminent domain authority to take land for private economic development projects,” Shanahan added. “The bill was sent to the House Rules Committee to die without fair consideration.”
“The people of North Carolina deserve better. North Carolinians need more than a smokescreen – we need the kind of real protection provided by a constitutional amendment. Once again, I call on the members of the North Carolina General Assembly to do what is right by allowing our citizens to vote on a constitutional amendment to protect our private property from eminent domain abuse.”
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Lubbock, TX -- A local pastor says his church could be forced to shut down if the city gets what it wants.
The city has been planning for years to widen 50th Street west of Slide Road to seven lanes. In order to do that, they need some land from the Faith Assembly of God Church.
Earlier this week, the city filed eminent domain proceedings, and the church congregation says it`s just not right.
The city determined the church would only lose about six-square-feet of its sanctuary in the deal, so they offered the church $250,000.
The pastor of the church, Terry Nesmith, says he couldn`t accept the offer because the church would actually lose 30-feet.
"There`s just no way we can replace what we`re losing with ($250,000)," he says.
Click here for the full article from KAMC 28
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
National Taxpayers' Union to N.C. Legislators: A Constitutional Amendment is needed to prevent Eminent Domain Abuse
Text of the Letter:
On behalf of the more than 10,700 North Carolina members of the National Taxpayers Union, I urge you to pass the strongest possible prohibition against using eminent domain powers for economic development. While the main statutory response (HB1965) to the eminent domain debate does offer some protection by narrowing the definition of “public use” to exclude economic development, we are concerned that any exemption for “blight” could be abused by localities intent on taking private property for development purposes. At the end of the day, a Constitutional Amendment would provide better protection against the rationale used in the Kelo v. New London case to justify forced private to private transfers of property. Eminent domain abuse is a looming threat to North Carolina property owners, and we ask you to act now to avoid future cases of improper takings.
In June of 2005, the nation’s highest court held that the city of New London, Connecticut was justified in seizing the property of Susette Kelo and her fellow homeowners on behalf of another private party. Despite the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against taking private property for public use without just compensation, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Kelo permits the use of eminent domain for private to private transfers as long as government officials have a “plan” and believe that there will be some economic benefit from the taking. Thankfully, taxpayers still have some recourse, as the ruling stated, “nothing in our opinion precludes any State from placing further restrictions on its exercise of the takings power.”
Taxpayers must now rely on elected state officials to provide protection against misuse of eminent domain powers. While HB1965 offers some additional protection for property owners, we cannot lose sight of the fact that placing a statutory patch on such a critical problem is not a lasting policy solution. North Carolinians deserve a Constitutional Amendment that establishes a strict definition of “public use.”
We hope that you will help us defend the American Dream by passing an amended bill that removes blight loopholes, but we trust that you will soon take up a Constitutional Amendment that will properly enshrine the property rights of North Carolinians.
Senior Government Affairs Manager
Sunday, July 02, 2006
On behalf of the N.C. Property Rights Coalition, I wish you and yours a safe and happy Fourth of July.
As you celebrate our nation's independence, please take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices our forefathers made on behalf of our great nation.
Without the sacrifices made by our nation's founding fathers, we would not have our freedom.
Our founding fathers understood that private property is one of the cornerstones of a free society. That's why the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution reinforces the notion of private property rights.
As you celebrate during this Fourth of July holiday, please take time to give thanks for our freedom and reflect on the fundamental importance of private property rights. We are the stewards of the freedom purchased by our founding fathers' sacrifices, and it is incumbent upon us to remain vigilant in defending those liberties.
Again, I wish you and yours a safe and happy Independence Day.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
By Timothy Sandefur
Californians worried about local governments abusing their powers of eminent domain can rejoice in the news that the Protect Our Homes Act has officially qualified to appear on this November's ballot.
The Secretary of State's office announced Tuesday that it had verified 683,712 of about 1 million signatures for the initiative, which would protect individuals and small-business owners from having their land seized and transferred to other private holders.
Click here for the rest of the article
An interesting observation from the House J-3 Committee's vote to kill the Eminent Domain amendment...
The Fayetteville Observer's View: Cheap legislative tricks won’t assuage the public’s anger
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Eminent Domain Amendment Evicted
The House leadership revealed their position on the issue of eminent domain on Tuesday. After giving committee members and bill sponsors 15 minutes notice, the Judiciary III Committee re-referred House Bill 2213 to the Rules Committee on a party line vote. Representative Paul Stam (R-Wake) discovered his bill was on the committee’s agenda just minutes before the meeting.
Long considered by many legislative watchers as bill purgatory, the Rules Committee is not expected to take action on the constitutional amendment this session. Representative Stam had given notice to the House of his intention to invoke House Rule 39 in order to discharge his bill from committee. His request required a notice of four legislative days before proceeding. Tuesday was the first eligible day to use his Rule 39 motion.
Read the entire article here:
N.C. Property Rights Coalition Chairman Kieran Shanahan criticizes legislature’s move to kill eminent domain amendment
“The legislators who voted to send House Bill 2213 to the Rules Committee are ignoring and undermining the will of the vast majority of North Carolinians and jeopardizing our private property rights,” said Shanahan. “Make no mistake: this important bill was sent to the Rules Committee to die.”
“The legislators who voted to kill this important amendment would have you believe that legislation passed earlier in this session ensures that our private property is safe from the long arm of eminent domain,” Shanahan added. “Nothing could be further from the truth. The legislation passed by the House earlier during this session is a mere band-aid. Legislatures come and go, and laws can easily be changed. That’s why we need a state Constitutional amendment to ensure that North Carolinians’ private property is safe from eminent domain abuse. A Constitutional amendment will give us protection that stands the test of time.”
“On behalf of all North Carolinians, I challenge the legislative leadership to allow this bill to be heard,” Shanahan concluded.
Monday, June 26, 2006
The issue of eminent domain was brought up on the floor of the House of Representatives during Wednesday’s session. The U.S. Supreme Court, in the now infamous Kelo v The City of New London case, has upheld the seizure of private land by government for economic development purposes.
Representative Paul Stam (R-Wake) filed House Bill 2213 on May 17 to amend North Carolina’s Constitution to only allow eminent domain for expressly public purposes. On the next day, it was referred to the Judiciary III Committee where it has been ever since.
On Wednesday, Representative Stam gave notice of his intention to invoke House rule 39, which allows bills referred to committee and not acted on within 10 legislative days to be recalled to the floor with a three-fifths vote. Immediate opposition came from Rules Co-Chair Mickey Michaux (D-Durham). After several minutes of private consultation with Speaker Jim Black (D-Mecklenburg), Michaux was unable to have Stam’s request ruled out of order.
READ ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE:
Click here for more
We've just had the first anniversary of the Kelo decision (your property is your property but only if, like, no one else will pay more taxes on it) and the blog Division of Labour has a listing of what those fine upstanding citizens, the local and State governments of the country, have been doing with it. My favorite was the first one listed:
Click here for more
"In Hercules, CA, the city council on May 23, 2006, unanimously voted to seize property acquired by Wal-Mart, in order to prevent the retail giant from opening a store in town."
- Timothy Sandefur
ONE YEAR after the Supreme Court shocked Americans with its eminent-domain decision, Kelo v. New London, officials in Riviera Beach, Fla., announced their intention to seize 400 acres of land, including hundreds of homes and businesses, and transfer the property to a developer, to build stores and condominiums.
Although on May 11 Gov. Jeb Bush signed a law prohibiting such property seizures, the city had rushed to approve its plan in an emergency meeting on May 10. Asked about these shady tactics, Riviera Beach Mayor Michael Brown insisted that the city had acted legally.
"We're comfortable," he said, "with everything we've done."
Unfortunately, Brown's audacity is typical of bureaucrats who see Kelo as signaling open season on landowners. Such officials perceive themselves as sculptors of neighborhoods, who mold their ideal city from the property that people have worked hard to buy. They don't see property as a right, but as a privilege, which can be revoked or altered in the name of "progress."Click here for more
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Governor’s Veto Endangers Iowa Private Property
- Vilsack’s veto leaves Iowans’ doors wide open to eminent domain abuse-
WASHINGTON — Today, Property Rights Alliance (PRA) executive director Scott A. LaGanga, stated his opposition to Governor Tom Vilsack’s (D-Iowa) veto of a measure that would have limited Iowa citizens’ exposure to eminent domain abuse. Eminent domain for private profit uses government force to accommodate preferred businesses at the expense of other businesses or honest homeowners who simply do not produce the same volume of tax revenue.
The measure focused on the Iowa government’s power for private to private takings, including eminent domain authority and condemnation procedures. In a speech following the Governor’s veto, he stated that the legislation did not maintain a proper balance between protecting private property rights and encouraging economic development, stating “I am convinced that Iowa’s economy…will be negatively impacted should HF 2351 become law and place us at a competitive disadvantage with other states.”
“I am sorry to inform the Governor but economic development actually occurs when private property is protected, not left vulnerable to government’s grasp,” said Mr. LaGanga. “Families and businesses interested in moving to the Hawkeye State have a new welcome message: Congratulations on your new home…the state may be the new owner tomorrow.”
Congress' Stalled Crusade Against Eminent Domain Seizures
By Shawn Zeller, CQ Staff
Where’s the outrage? When the Supreme Court ruled last summer that governments could use their eminent domain powers to seize private property in the name of economic development, Congress clamored on both sides of the aisle to register its dissent.
The House quickly adopted a resolution condemning the Kelo v. City of New London decision — which doomed a working-class neighborhood in Connecticut to the wrecking ball to make way for a higher-priced residential and shopping development. The House followed that up by adding a rider to an appropriations bill that barred the use of federal funds to enforce the Supreme Court’s ruling —and finally, by passing a bill in November that would deny some federal funding to local governments that seize private property for economic development.But the Senate hasn’t rallied nearly so briskly to the anti-Kelo cause, and a coalition of mostly conservative groups is seeking to bring fresh momentum to the bills stalled there.Click here for the full article
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Click here to view the bill
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Another Resident of Fort Trumbull settles; Two Remain
The New London Day - June 6, 2006
New London, CT — And then there were two.
The City Council voted late Monday night to proceed with efforts to take possession of the former properties of two remaining plaintiffs in the Fort Trumbull eminent domain case.
The vote came just hours after William Von Winkle, one of seven original plaintiffs in Kelo v. City of New London, the case the U.S. Supreme Court decided last June, reached a financial settlement with the city.
Susette Kelo and Pasquale Cristofaro remain.
The motion, which instructed city Law Director Thomas Londregan “to proceed with the process to obtain possession of the properties,” also instructed him to “obtain past due taxes and rents collected from third parties and/or reasonable use and occupancy fees.”
Mayor Beth A. Sabilia, Deputy Mayor Jane Glover and Councilors Rob Pero, Kevin J. Cavanagh and Margaret M. Curtin voted in favor of the motion. Councilors William Cornish and Charles W. Frink opposed it.
“It is my strong belief that the previous City Council and this City Council have been exceedingly fair and forthright in seeking accommodations in order to move the Municipal Development Plan for Fort Trumbull forward,” Cavanagh, who made the motion, said. “We have made our intentions known, set a deadline which has expired and this is the next step that needs to take place.”
“In my own mind, in my own heart, I have a lot of difficulty doing what we're doing,” Pero said. “But ultimately, down the road, I think we're doing what's best for New London.”
Pero defended the Municipal Development Plan, which has been reviewed by numerous state agencies and upheld by the courts.
“This plan has seen more scrutiny than I think any plan anywhere has ever seen,” he said.
Frink, who called the motion “morally abhorrent,” called on the other councilors to change their minds.
“If throwing our neighbors out of their houses is immoral, and I think it's the bottom of the pit of public morality, and throwing them out of their houses with no money is unreasonable, why are these people sticking to their position?” he said. “On this issue they are stuck, and it's a mystery.”
The vote ignored the recommendation last week of Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who recommended that the council allow those plaintiffs who decline settlements to be relocated together onto a portion of the parcel known as 4A and be given titles to their homes at their new locations.
The deeds would be transferable but would carry restrictions giving the city the first opportunity to buy the properties at fair market value if their owners wished to transfer or sell them to anyone other than immediate family.
The council voted in February to allow lifetime tenancy on Parcel 4A without returning transferable deeds.
“How come we can't give a little more?” Cornish said.
The council's vote, witnessed by an audience overflowing into the hallways and by at least seven video cameras, was preceded by two hours of public comment.
Michael Cristofaro and his brother, Franco Cristofaro, sons of Pasquale Cristofaro, said their family will not settle with the city for the second property it has seized from them by eminent domain.
“If you want to see an 81-year-old man who loves this country and has never been arrested be handcuffed and hauled away along with every member of the Cristofaro family, continue along the path you are going. We won't be leaving,” Michael Cristofaro said.
“We are not going to give up. We will stand our ground,” Franco Cristofaro said. “You are here of the people, by the people and for the people. We are the people. Do your job.”
Kelo, the lead plaintiff in the suit against the city that the U.S. Supreme Court decided 5-4 against the plaintiffs last year, spoke quietly before the vote from the hallway.
“I really want the best for all my neighbors. The fact they settled, I'm very grateful for all of them for standing by me,” Kelo said.
“Eminent domain is wrong. It was wrong seven or eight years ago when they started this, and it's still wrong today,” she said.
Asked about her next step, Kelo said she didn't know what the council, then in executive session, was going to do.
“I'm assuming I'm going to have to get some boxes, if things keep going the way they're going,” Kelo said.
“Do the right thing, the ethically right thing. Go beyond the law, give back the deeds,” Sandra Beachy, a city resident, said.
She was one of 18 people from around the state who spoke in favor of Rell's proposal and in support of the former property owners at Fort Trumbull during the public comment portion of the meeting. Three said they supported the city's Fort Trumbull redevelopment plan.
“I am here tonight to give vocal support to those councilors who have been working so hard to find a resolution,” said Margo Bernier of Ocean Avenue. “Once the Supreme Court made its decision, we considered it an accomplished fact, a done deal. The highest court in the land made its decision, and whether one agreed with it or not, it was time to move on.”
“Some of us have waited many years for New London to turn a corner,” Bernier said. “That opportunity is here. We don't want to lose it.”
“It's time for New London to take the land, take the rent, take the taxes and get economic development going,” said Audrey Merrill.
Word of a financial settlement with Von Winkle came minutes before the start of the council meeting.
NLDC President Michael Joplin declined to reveal the settlement amount, as he has with settlements last week between the city and plaintiffs Charles Dery, Thelma Brelesky and Richard Beyer's Pataya Construction Limited Partnership. Laura and James Guretsky settled with the city last fall.
Von Winkle's settlement includes all three houses he formerly owned at Fort Trumbull, Joplin said. In addition, the city purchased 216 Howard St., a property owned by Von Winkle and approved earlier this year by the Planning and Zoning Commission for a used car dealership.
The N.C. Property Rights Coalition is not affiliated with the Civitas Institute.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
by Susette Kelo
Published in The Washington Times -- September 20, 2005
I am the Kelo in Kelo v. City of New London -- the now-infamous U.S. Supreme Court case in which the court ruled private property, including my home, could be taken by another private party promising to create more jobs and taxes with the land. Just last week, three of my neighbors got eviction notices, giving them 30 to 90 days to leave their homes.
I received just such a notice five years ago, the day before Thanksgiving, which marked the beginning of my fight to defend what is rightfully mine. It took a gutsy demand from my state's governor to finally make the private condemning agency back down for now on its demand that I and my neighbors give up our homes so they could be bulldozed.
Click here for the full column
Mount Airy, people settle City delays annexation; residents call off lawsuit
The city of Mount Airy and 500 residents in two affluent communities north of the city have settled a lawsuit that challenged the legality of an annexation there more than three years ago.
Last night, the board of commissioners adopted a resolution that delays the effective date of the annexation to June 30, 2008.
In exchange, the homeowners have agreed to drop their plans to pursue the case further. In February, the N.C. Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal by the residents, who say that Mount Airy officials did not follow state law in trying to make the Cross Creek and Laurel Hills areas part of the city.
Residents were prepared to keep challenging the annexation, but in the past two months, there was an opinion among the group that too much money on both sides had already been spent.
Residents have spent about $100,000 in legal fees. The city of Mount Airy has spent as much.
Click here for the full story
Opponents: City services not worth extra taxes
Forced annexation could change political landscape of Winston-Salem
On a front yard in Pfafftown, a white sign with red bold letters reads: No forced annexation.
The sign belongs to Libby Robbins, who has lived there since 1955, but it might as well belong to anyone on this half-mile section of Yadkinville Road.
Winston-Salem's plan to annex 20 square miles and at least 17,000 residents has been stalled for two years by two lawsuits, but if the city is allowed to move ahead, Robbins and her neighbors would get new benefits, such as garbage pickup - and the power to vote in city elections.
Yesterday, Robbins said she would use that power.
"Most of us along here are senior citizens, so (annexation) is going to put a hurt on us," said Robbins, 73. "I don't know how government works. All I know is that I don't like what they're doing to us."
Click here for the full article
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Link to article
BLACK CREEK — At least 50 residents of the Carr Road area packed Town Hall in protest of a proposed annexation of their neighborhood.
Most residents said the annexation would create a financial hardship, several said they would move, others said they were losing their property rights and several challenged the method and selection of homes slated for possible annexation into the town.
"I think everyone here does not want to be in the annexation," said Linda McKeel. "This is an in-your-face, the biggest discrimination I've seen."
McKeel pointed to a nearby map and said some of the Carr area properties were less than an acre of land while other, larger properties adjoining the town were much larger but not within the annexation plan.
Most of the Carr Road area homes are singlewide or doublewide modular units.
McKeel said the Carr Road area is being singled out and questioned the town's slogan, "A small town with a big heart."
"You don't have a big heart; you have a greedy one. I don't know how you can do it. It's not fair to these people."
About half of the protesters wore T-shirts with a recent Wilson Daily Times cartoon about the annexation on the front and, on the back, said "Black Creek: the town with no heart."
McKeel wasn't the only resident who questioned why certain homes were omitted from the annexation plan and why homes near the town limits, including several along Central Street were not in the plan.
Ken Matthews asked the board why the Gooseneck cul-de-sac connected to Carr Road was omitted. Several people in the audience said the land was owned by Mack Smith, the former planning board chairman, newly appointed town commissioner and son of the late mayor, Ralph Smith.
Chris Lukasina with the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, an annexation adviser to the board, said it was because the property was too large.
Matthews walked away and shook his head.
Rufus Webb presented the Town Board a petition of 131 signatures from residents in the proposed annexation area and others outside the area who are concerned they could be next.
"I was blindsided when I learned of the proposed forced annexation," Webb said, after handing the petition to commissioners.
"I have lived here for 10 years, and I've never heard a word about this until I received a letter from the town of Black Creek a month before the meeting of May 2.
"This proposed annexation says I have no vote or say-so. Annexation is wrong, but it happens to be legal. If you gentlemen vote this forced annexation in, you are voting against everything this nation stands for."
The Town Board plans — with Commissioner Roland Godwin absent — to vote on whether to annex 95 parcels of land along Carr, Akron, Frank Price Church and Yank roads during its June 13 board meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall.
Godwin was not at Tuesday's public hearing and was not at a May 2 informational meeting where the annexation proposal was presented to residents.
Godwin said this morning that he had other commitments but did not say what those were. He said he will be in Kentucky June 13.
"I don't think that was anyone's concerns why I wasn't there," Godwin said. "I have a lot of church functions. ... Since it was informational meetings and public hearings, I didn't think I needed to be there.
"I'm not trying to avoid it because that's the only way we can grow is to annex."
Twenty-one people spoke in opposition during Tuesday's meeting.
Click here to read the post.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
“Private property rights are one of the cornerstones of our free society, and we must be vigilant in protecting our property from unwarranted taking by the government,” says Shanahan. “Unfortunately, the private property rights of all Americans took a direct hit with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo decision last year. That’s why we created the North Carolina Property Rights Coalition -- to protect the property rights of North Carolinians from unlawful and overreaching action by state and local government. We will push for public policies which preserve and protect our property rights, and we will fight eminent domain abuse and forced annexation.”
The North Carolina Property Rights Coalition (NCPRC) is a 501(c) (4) non-profit coalition of individuals, organizations, businesses and community leaders dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights and interests of property owners, as well as revealing misuses and threats of eminent domain throughout North Carolina. More information on the N.C. Property Rights Coalition is available at www.NCPropertyRights.com.
Raleigh resident Kieran Shanahan serves as Chairman of the N.C. Property Rights Coalition. Shanahan recently completed eight years of service on the Raleigh City Council. During his tenure on the Council, Shanahan earned a reputation as a consistent voice for responsible government and common-sense leadership. As a member of the City Council, Shanahan served as Chairman of the Law & Public Safety Committee and a member of the Comprehensive Planning Committee. In 2001 he founded the Shanahan Law Group, a Raleigh firm concentrating in complex civil litigation as well as corporate and estate law. Shanahan previously worked as a Federal prosecutor and a partner in the Raleigh office of Patton Boggs. Kieran and his wife, Tina, live in Raleigh, where they are members of Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. They have three adult children.