Some bits of news worth reporting…
First, I received a phone call the other day from Nick Bianco, town attorney for Yorktown, who told me that the Yorktown Town Board passed a resolution that states that the town may only take private property through eminent domain if the land is put to a traditional public use. That would include roads, bridges and other things of a utilitarian purpose.
In other words, the town will not seize property and hand it over to private developers of hotels, condos, big box stores, etc.
Bravo to Yorktown! Other municipalities should take notice.
Also, another piece of news arrived from the Institute of Justice, the nonprofit legal organization in Washington, D.C. that has been fighting so-called “private use” eminent domain all over the nation, and was on the losing end of the Kelo v. New London case heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a press release, the Institute quotes a study entitled “The Taking of Prosperity” written by Thomas Garrett and Paul Rothstein for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Mo. They say as follows, “(T)he taking of private property from one person and giving it to another for economic development…is unlikely to create a net benefit to society. It is more likely to creat economic inefficiences and to reduce economic growth.”
The authors contend that the threat of eminent domain for private use can be no better than a zero-sum game. The main beneficiaries, they write, are the developer, the property manager and the politicians who, at election time, boast about economic development.
Garrett and Rothstein argue that rabid government intervention in the private marketplace creates more harm than good because people, knowing that their property rights are in limbo, will have a disincentive to make the best economic use of their property. Potential residents and businesses may also avoid towns that “have a record of taking private property for economic development.”