This is the most notorious case of eminent domain in the name of Economic Development. The Supreme Court of the United States case ruling in 2005 of Kelo v. City of New London disregarded the fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and turned the “takings clause” on its ear. The Kelo project not only uprooted approximately 4,200 residents, it also razed 1,300 homes, 140 businesses, six churches and provided decades of precedent.
The Michigan Supreme Court also ruled that a community could be condemned to allow General Motors to build a factory, accepting the argument that it would revitalize the community in the 1981 Poletown Neighborhood Council v. City of Detroit decision. The Poletown decision was subsequently used in a number of Law & Economics courses.
This was a red flag to pay attention to. As far as I’m concerned, all the arguments that supposedly revitalize the community and increase the tax base in the name of “economic development,” sells the hope of generating higher tax revenue, but primarily serves private interests.
July 30, 2004 the ruling was issued in the case of Wayne County v. Edward Hathcock, in which Wayne County sought to invoke eminent domain to seize private land and facilitate a business and technology park. The park was to be owned and operated by private companies.
Justice Robert P. Young, who wrote the lead opinion, called the 1981 case allowing Detroit’s Poletown neighborhood to be cleared for a GM plant a “radical departure from fundamental constitutional principles.”
“We overrule Poletown,” Young wrote, “in order to vindicate our constitution, protect the people’s property rights and preserve the legitimacy of the judicial branch as the expositor, not creator, of fundamental law.”
Michigan made me proud by first vindicating our Constitution and then strengthening it December 13, 2005.
By a vote of 80.1 percent to 19.9 percent, Michigan voters approved a constitutional amendment that builds on and strengthens the Michigan Supreme Court’s reversal of the infamous Poletown decision. Among its many provisions, the amendment requires that property owners must receive 124 percent of fair market value for property taken by eminent domain. The amendment also explicitly prohibits the use of eminent domain for economic development and/or tax revenue enhancement, and specifies that condemnations based on blight must be subject to a higher standard of evidence.
State Proposal – 06-4: Constitutional Amendment: Restrict Use of Eminent Domain. View the voting results.
We had (most states still have) small business and homeowners on one side at the mercy of greedy developers and greedy government officials just looking to raise their tax base on the other. I’m grateful more than enough Michigan residents spoke at the voting booth for this amendment, just as I’m proud and indebted that enough Lenawee County voters showed up to defeat proposal 1 last week.
In light of this background by Michigan’s Supreme Court and Michigan voters, why was the Adrian & Blissfield Railroad Co., owned by Mark Dobronski allowed to take the piece of Blissfield property owned by Daniel Hacker in 2008? Read more of this story from Dennis Pelham in The Adrian Daily Telegram – Court grants land to railroad.
Judge Harvey A. Koselka’s decision should have been challenged. The Judge’s decision came only months before his official retirement from the bench January 1st, 2009. As of today, almost three years later, the proposed $1 million construction project has yet to be built. The Railroad just recently demolished the century and a half-year old ice house for possible construction to begin building a potential new depot.
On a Different Note…
I’ve just learned about something new for a related topic; have you ever wanted to know what bill was being discussed on the House Floor or wanted a little more information about the policies of a bill?
There’s an app for that!
The Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy just unveiled the WhipCast app, a revolutionary effort in government transparency. Watch the video or read more here.
And, I just found this little bit of Intel from “Government Gone Wild,” a list of Republicans and Democrats that somehow greatly increased their net worth through public service. This is the list everybody is talking about. My brother commented saying, “it’s like pigs with noses in your trough, gobbling as much as they can, then taking a short break just long enough to turn around and grin at you.” He was watching the show American Hoggers at the time, it could have had something to do with his analogy.