The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

It's Deja Vu All Over Again...

I've said it here before, abusive eminent domain is particularly hard-hitting on those least able to defend themselves: the poor, the elderly, the elderly poor, etc. Think about the disproportionality - invariably it is older, less-valuable pieces of property that are targeted for private-to-private eminent domain, and these are invariably inhabited by those who can only afford those pieces of property, or have lived in those properties for lengthy periods of time.

Nevertheless, it hits me right in the gut when Susette Kelo's scenario is repeated over and over and over again.

Like today. In Cincinnati.

Magistrate says city can take 80-year-old woman's property
Associated Press

CINCINNATI - A magistrate ruled Tuesday that an 80-year-old woman will have to give up the house she's lived in for almost half a century to make way for a road project.

City officials say the project is in the interest of public safety, but Emma Dimasi argued the real reason the city wants her house is to help a nearby hospital with its expansion. She has said taking her home violates a one-year ban in Ohio on seizing property that will end up in the hands of another private owner.

Good Samaritan Hospital is contributing $1.28 million toward the $4 million project, which will give the hospital more room for its $122 million expansion. The hospital also gets whatever land is left over after construction for $1.

Cities and states have the power to take private property to give to another private owner. But the U.S. Supreme Court also has said states can enact stronger rights for property owners.
Hamilton County Common Pleas Magistrate Richard Bernat ruled that the city did not commit fraud or abuse its discretion when it took the land.

Dimasi's son and attorney, Vincent Dimasi, said he would file an objection with Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Melba Marsh within two weeks.

Dimasi said his mother was upset, but he had been preparing her for the possibility that the ruling could go against her.

"She's 80 years old and has lived in that house most of her life," Dimasi said. "She's always been adamant about maintaining her own independence for as long as possible, and this is difficult for her."

The son, who owns adjoining property that is also being taken, said if Marsh does not overrule the magistrate, the decision cannot be appealed to a higher court.

"The presumption in these cases is that the city has the right to take property under eminent domain, and it's very difficult for an individual to overcome that," he said.

Dimasi said there are important legal issues beyond trying to help his mother keep the small brick home she moved into in 1959.

"The hospital has essentially purchased the city's eminent domain power to use for its own purposes," Dimasi said.

City officials haven't denied the project's connection with the hospital expansion, but city spokeswoman Meg Olberding said the hospital's plan came along at a time when it helped both the city and the hospital. The city has been concerned about safety issues with car and foot traffic in the area, she said.

"It's a project that does have beneficial impact to the general public and to the expansion of the hospital, but the hospital was going to do the project whether or not the road was relocated," said Timothy Burke, the attorney representing TriHealth Partnership, which includes Good Samaritan. "This project is not economic development."

Gov. Bob Taft signed a law last year that put a hold on eminent domain actions for economic development while a state task force studies the issue, but Cincinnati City Council adopted the ordinance to take the Dimasi properties before that ban took effect.

The Ohio Supreme Court is considering whether Norwood, a Cincinnati suburb, can take residential property by eminent domain and give it to a developer for a shopping mall.


- Andrew Langer


Blogger tohan said...

The Ohio moratorium is nothing else but a one-year "time-out"that does not even apply to most major condemnation projects within the blighted areas.The "task force" of 25 members has only two people in it who represent property owners and the "legislative report" they will come up with does not obligate Ohio's Legislation in any way.They can ignore it completely ...
Ohio courts have declared "public use" synonymous with "public benefit" and based on that they allowed cities to condemn land to provide off-street parking places near a major league baseball field so as to keep the baseball team from moving to another city. Their idea of "blight" is so liberal that when the city officials were directly approached by a developer who urged them to use eminent domain to condemn a NON-BLIGHTED area,they complied declaring that area was "deteriorating".Their Court of Appeals allowed the condemnation to proceed..

March 17, 2006 8:24 PM


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