Tags: The | Kelo | Calamity

The Kelo Calamity

Friday, 05 August 2005 12:00 AM

Moreover, not all of these efforts to restrict the use of eminent domain are succeeding, and those that do can be changed by a majority vote. They do not constitute a constitutional protection of private property.

It is clear that the Kelo decision has greatly diminished the protection of private property. Prior to the decision, there were fewer demands for takings and fewer opportunities for government to use eminent domain powers. The distinction between public and private use of eminent domain restricted its use against private property. The Kelo decision removed this restriction.

The Kelo decision created fundamentally new inroads into private property. Prior to Kelo, zoning authorities could restrict what could be built in specific locations, but they had no power to assemble or disassemble land parcels. Thus has Kelo greatly enhanced the reach of government planning.

The Kelo decision also further corrupts government by creating another avenue of payoffs to public officials in exchange for their power to alter property ownership in behalf of private interests.

Libertarians are correct that the source of the mischief comes from the government's power to take private property for public use. "Public use" is an elastic concept. Originally, public use meant roads and bridges. With time and technology, the concept expanded to electric power companies serving public purpose.

The takings of property were limited to the amount needed to provide a community with transportation or electric power. However, in the 1980s, a major new development was initiated by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). MARTA was one of the first to condemn more property than it needed to serve "public purpose." The transit authority reasoned that property surrounding a new transportation station would rise in value because of the increased ease of commuting from the site. The authority decided that since its station was the reason for the rise in property values, it should benefit by condemning property for re-sale after the rise in value. People with condemned property blocks from the new stations sued and lost.

Kelo expands the definition of public use. Condemnation for "public use" is now justified by higher projected tax revenues made possible by condemning low-density neighborhoods, for example, and transferring the land to developers who make multimillions of dollars by constructing high-density high-rises on the assembled site.

The Kelo decision threatens all private property, especially low-density residential neighborhoods that occupy desirable sites. All coastal and waterfront communities, for example, are endangered by the Kelo ruling.

Money is a powerful force. The Kelo decision has made it more powerful.

COPYRIGHT 2005 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

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Moreover, not all of these efforts to restrict the use of eminent domain are succeeding, and those that do can be changed by a majority vote. They do not constitute a constitutional protection of private property. It is clear that the Kelo decision has greatly diminished...
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Friday, 05 August 2005 12:00 AM
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