Friday, August 12, 2005

Do You Know Kelo?

The U.S. Supreme Court decided on June 23 in the case of Kelo v. New London that the taking of private property to promote economic development in New London, Conn. was a "public use" and thus permissible.

Lawyers with the Boult, Cummings, Conners, & Berry Firm published an article in July's Nashville Business Journal on why this ruling should not concern property owners in Tennessee. I linked the article in my "Links for the Neighborhoods" box in the righthand column. Click on "Impact of Kelo."

1 comment:

  1. I'm not getting a reassuring vibe from the linked article.

    The Tennessee General Assembly hasn't authorized state or local governments to condemn property for the sole purpose of promoting economic development. Tennessee statutes authorizing the exercise of the power to authorize condemnation for the purpose of constructing specified public improvements, with limited expectations.

    The authority granted to housing authorities to condemn private property in redevelopment districts when a redevelopment plan will remedy blighting conditions. Cities and counties may condemn private property for industrial parks that have been certified by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. And cities and counties may condemn private property for sports facilities and sports authorities.

    Most importantly, Tennessee courts haven't always deferred to the legislation finding of public use, as the Kelo case does, but instead have held that whether a proposed taking is for a "public use" is a judicial question. Thus, Tennessee courts aren't as likely to permit the legislative body to unilaterally determine whether a use is a "public use."

    I worked for a city attorney that was able to prove, under these conditions, that a perfectly viable set of businesses were "blight", and condemned the property to build a convention center.

    The blight? A McDonalds, A Taco Bell and a locally owned restaurant. All were doing good business, but the city decided that they were a 'blight' for the simple reason that the wouldn't bring in as much money as the convention center. It's all semantics.

    I'm not one to rest easily when lawyers try to reassure me.