I’m still shaking my head over this one and I bet there are a lot of developers and city managers out there that are doing their best imitation of Mr. Burns while muttering “excellent” under their collective breath. Yeah I know being a liberal I’m supposed to be against the whole idea of property rights, but thats an area where I tend to show my conservative side. I was brought up with the idea that a person’s home is their castle and this decision pretty much destroys that comfortable illusion. Pretty much any half-assed rationale can be used to justify the loss of your property now and there’s not a shit load you’ll be able to do about it unless you’re wealthy yourself; and when was the last time you heard of a wealthy person having to give up land to eminent domain? We should see the results of this boneheaded decision pretty quickly. Over at CNNMoney they’re trying to paint an optimistic picture that retailers would be smart not to abuse eminent domain too much:
Craig Johnson, president of retail consulting group Customer Growth Partners, said that retailers shouldn’t interpret the high court’s decision to be a green light to aggressively expand even into those neighborhoods where a big-box presence is unwelcome.
“Even with the Supreme Court’s decision potentially in their favor, smart retailers would rather go into communities wearing a white hat rather than a black one,” said Johnson.
The appropriate move for companies would be to selectively use eminent domain as a last resort, he said, not as a first course of action. “I think companies have learned a few lessons from Wal-Mart’s public relations struggles,” he said.
Maybe, but then again maybe not. One retail analyst makes it clear she thinks it’s going to become a much more common practice:
“Expanding for big box store is a challenge, especially in the Northeast. Therefore, retailers will have to devise a strategy for using eminent domain,” said Candace Corlett, retail analyst with WSL Strategic nRetail.
And down in Houston, Texas they’re already getting started:
FREEPORT – With Thursday’s Supreme Court decision, Freeport officials instructed attorneys to begin preparing legal documents to seize three pieces of waterfront property along the Old Brazos River from two seafood companies for construction of an $8 million private boat marina.
One of the seafood companies have been in operation since 1946 and generates around $40 million annually, but the marina is “expected to attract” around $60 million in hotels and a couple hundred jobs so the seafood company loses out. I can see how the marina, if it actually attracts the other businesses it’s “expected” to, would be a boon to the city, but taking land from private individual(s) and then turning around and selling it to different private individual(s) doesn’t seem like the sort of thing the Founding Fathers had in mind when they came up with eminent domain in the first place. At least not based on anything I’ve read from them about it. With this decision any developer that can lay claim to big tax benefits for the city can probably expect to find things going their way and I’d hazard to guess it won’t be long before they stop bothering even asking folks if they want to sell their property.
So enjoy that property while you can. If it happens to fall under the gaze of a developer some day who thinks it’d be perfect for his next set of strip malls/condos/office buildings then you may find yourself wondering where it went.