Saturday, August 16, 2008

Homeowners Notch Win in Long-Running Battle Over Eminent Domain

Pamela A. MacLean,, 08-11-2008

A New Jersey appellate court handed a victory to homeowners in a long-running eminent domain dispute with the city of Long Branch, N.J., finding no actual blight in an area set for condemnation and redevelopment.

The case by a group of long-term residents of the coastal strip drew the attention of land use specialists and landowner rights advocates from around the country in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 decision allowing cities to use eminent domain to take "blighted" land from one private owner to give to another for development. (link)

I realize that if a similar case went to trial in Nashville, it would have to be decided by defining "blight" under Tennessee law. I am not a lawyer and do not know how such a suit would turn out. However, I would be very surprised if Joy Ford's modest neat brick one story building could be found to be blighted under any rational definition of the term. I would be surprised if Tennessee defines blight less restrictively than New Jersey.
It appear that the Joy Ford case is going to be solved. The developer and MDHA decided they did not have to take her property in order to go forward with the proposed development after all. They have offered her a large sum of money for a portion of her parking. This however is still a case of negotiating while some one has a gun to your head. Joy will probably decide to accept the lucrative offer rather than fight a costly court battle. I don't blame her. However, I would like to have seen this go to court. Property should not be considered "blighted" just because someone else has a better use for the property. Property owners should be able to be secure in knowing that they have a right to their property.
While it appears that eminent domain condemnation was avoided in the case of Joy Ford, the right of the government to take your property on behalf of a developer is secure. Citizens in redevelopment zones must still negotiate with potential buyers while the government holds a gun to their head.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tyson’s Foods Backs Down, Reinstates Labor Day

Tyson Foods has announced they have reached a new agreement with their union and will not substitute a Muslim holiday for Labor Day beyond this first year. In the future employees will be given a floating holiday which may be the Muslim holiday, the employees birthday, or any other day of the employee’s choosing.

When I first read the report that Tyson Foods was agreeing to a union contract that replaced Labor Day with a Muslim holiday at its chicken processing plant in Shelbyville, I predicted that there would be an outpouring of outrage. (link) There was. This substitution of the Muslim holiday for labor day only occurred at this one plant where 700 of the 1000 employees are Somali refugees and are Muslim.

The chatters and bloggers have been going nuts ever since this story broke. The peasants-with-pitchforks crowd have been in frenzy.

“Marshall Earp” a chatter at Republican Party posted the story about the holiday change and titled his post “Tyson Supports Terrorist.” Other chatters were equally outraged and bombastic. Sometimes the Internet can take on a mob mentality. Chatters were encouraging each other to call Tyson’s and complain and chatters were vowing never to purchase Tyson’s products again. One chatter said so many people where calling Tyson’s that their phone lines were jammed for days.

Some of the websites that were encouraging this response were decidedly Christian and patriotic. I am sure this attitude is not going to win many Christian converts and it doesn’t make me want to proclaim myself a Christian. Religion and patriotism are unfortunately often used as a cover for bigotry. Some of the chatters made the argument that if the shoe was on the other foot and we were in a Muslim nation that we would not be accommodated in this manner. I don’t understand that logic. Aren’t we supposed to be more democratic and more tolerant than fanatical Muslim regimes and police states? Is our goal be like those Muslim nations of whom we disapprove?

In World War II, America imprisoned thousands of Americans of Japanese ancestry for the simply crime of being Japanese. We have since apologized and condemned that action. Unfortunately, I don’t think we have come very far and we are just as capable of doing the same thing again.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Monday, August 11, 2008

Nashville Showdown Over Eminent Domain Avoided

It looks like a showdown over eminent domain in Nashville has been avoided and the Lionstone Development will go forward and Joy Ford will get to keep her property. Under a new proposal by Metro Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) and Houston-based developer The Lionstone Group, Lionstone would purchase a portion of the parking lot that surrounds Ms Ford’s office. Ford would be able to continue operating Country International Records at its current location.

Previously, MDHA had deemed the property “blighted” and was intending to take the property by eminent domain condemnation. The neat but simple brick building housing County International Records is located in the middle of a redevelopment district. MDHA had sought to acquire the Ford’s property on behalf of the developer who is planning a $70 million office tower on the adjacent property. Previously MDHA had taken the position that the development could not occur unless Ms Ford’s property was acquired. Ms Ford did not want to sell, so the city was going to use the power of eminent domain to take her property.

The Tennessean had editorialized against the proposed condemnation and talk show callers and Internet chatters had condemned the condemnation. Several Metro Council members said they were considering proposing legislation that would block the eminent domain action.

It looks like MDHA saw they were likely to lose and backed down, and what do you know? The development can occur without using the iron fist of government to take someone’s property.

To read more about this case, click the label “Joy Ford” in the sidebar to the left.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories