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November 9, 2006

EMINENT DOMAINIA: Big ballot wins and Wal-Mart strikes back

EminentDomainFight.gifCNNMoney.com, Kelo's revenge: Voters restrict eminent domain

Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon and South Carolina all passed initiatives to restrict the use of eminent domain, in most cases overwhelmingly.

Though results have not yet been announced, the New Hampshire measure is expected to pass. In Florida, the measure passed with 69% of the vote, while in Georgia, the amendment to the state constitution received a whopping 83%.

Voters in California and Idaho rejected more broadly based ballot measures:

Critics of the ballot measures in those states charged that the language in both was much too broad, was poorly written and confusing and would make it difficult and expensive for local planning boards to operate efficiently.

Atlantic Yards Report, After Michigan vote, AY project wouldn't fly there

What if the Atlantic Yards project were proposed for Michigan? It would be much, much tougher to approve a project that, like AY, is predicated on the elimination of blight. On Tuesday, Michigan voters by a 4-1 margin endorsed a constitutional amendment tightening the use of eminent domain.
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In Michigan, there's a higher burden of proof to show that the property proposed for condemnation is blighted, and a requirement that blight be considered on a parcel-by-parcel basis, rather than in a neighborhood. That would eliminate the acquisition of nonblighted parcels necessary for a project. Note that there are several buildings in the Atlantic Yards footprint that the state acknowledges aren't blighted.

NoLandGrab: Michigan has been at the forefront of the eminent domain debate.

In 1981, the Michigan State Supreme Court allowed private property to be taken for a private project, a GM plant. The Poletown decision created the nationwide precedent allowing the use of eminent domain for private projects.

In 2004, the Michigan State Supreme Court corrected itself and reversed the Poletown decision, in the case of County of Wayne v. Hathcock.

The Sacramento Bee, Mixed verdict nationwide on eminent-domain proposals

The Sac Bee calls Tuesday's nationwide results a "mixed verdict," since Arizona passed a law that was similar to the proposition rejected by Californians.

Contra Costa Times, Wal-Mart sues city over land grab

The mega-retailer Wal-Mart is usually the beneficiary of eminent domain takings. In the town of Hercules, CA, the retailer has been cast as a scourge on small-town life and mom-n-pop stores. After the town decided to use eminent domain, and some finagling of local law, to take land FROM Wal-Mart, the giant retailer fought back.

Posted by lumi at November 9, 2006 8:45 AM