Thursday, September 15, 2005

Life, Liberty, Property?

In the most recent issue of the Fort Wayne Reader, Mike Summers has an interesting and fairly detailed article about how Fort Wayne handles issues of eminent domain.
In Fort Wayne, perhaps the most public example has been the battle for the corner of Harrison and Jefferson Boulevard, the site now occupied by Belmont Liquors. According to reports, the city spent around $1 million over the course of more than two years to obtain the land for use as a hotel site. It’s a perfect illustration of the problem at the heart of the eminent domain controversy — the city acquiring private land for private use. City Councilman Don Schmidt (R-2nd) says that governments acquiring land for public use such as roads, schools, and sewer lines has been acceptable for years, and probably should be.

“Where the thing really breaks down is where you’re taking private land and giving it to another private individual for what the government thinks is a higher and better use,” says Schmidt, who is considering a bill that would limit local government’s ability to acquire land for this purpose. “That’s the scary part, and that’s where most jurisdictions are drawing the line.”

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