High court legalizes high crimes against property owners for private development
This past week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling that will put in jeopardy the rights of any citizen that now owns or any person that will own property.In the case Kelo v. New London, the court by a 5-4 vote has allowed the “taking” of private property to be transferred to private parties for development purposes.The case involves private homes on a waterfront that a family has owned and lived in for over 100 years.There has been a long-standing right of the government to take private land for “public use.” The public-use standard has been for creating roads, railroads, schools, hospitals and even stadiums.It is clear, that as the population expands, rights of way for public transportation are a necessary need for the public good. Schools, police stations and firehouses serve a greater public good than individual needs. The tragedy here is that this ruling gives public officials the right to declare private property subject to taking so that a new mall, strip center, apartment complex, hotel or big box private development can be erected.These new developments will be privately owned. The court stated that higher tax revenue for a municipality is a valid reason to take a person’s land or home.There are two staggering realities involved. This decision will allow elected public officials to take money and other support from private development groups who want more land to build properties, so their pockets can be filled.Politics and developer money work to serve each other and rarely do they serve the public. There is nothing new about politicians taking money from real estate developers. When a privately owned project needs to be built, it is amazing how quickly politicians get behind a development when their pockets get lined with cash.I have witnessed this event in other cities outside of Frisco. An example of how this ruling could affect Frisco: Think about the following. If a developer can find a town block of land and can get, say, four out of six owners to sell their land, the town can now require the other two to sell.Yes, they would be paid market price, but there is no guarantee in finding an equal property in Frisco.A family homestead of generations can be taken in the name of increasing tax revenue. The new multifamily project is more valuable to the town than your private home.There is the Frisco-owned 9.4 acres behind Safeway. The town would like to have the land developed for more tax revenue.There is a problem with finding a way to put a large revenue-generating entity on the property due to code restrictions. It is now theoretically feasible for the town, in concert with a developer, to condemn the entire Wal-Mart-Frisco Station shopping center and combine the adjoining properties.I make no indictment of Frisco officials, just an example.Secondly, and even scarier, is the fact the land and homes of the poorer segments of our society will suffer the greatest indignity from this ruling.Often, the poor have in the past been relegated to land that no one wanted. These properties may have been near polluted water, intercity areas, public facilities, factories or military bases.These properties are now valuable because of economic changes. Factories close, intercity is now popular, and waterways are cleaner. Developers see these properties as gems because they are often lower tax base property, therefore cheaper to condemn and buy with greater upside to sell and profit from. So much for the American Dream of upward mobility.This issue is indeed a complicated matter. Those of you who believe that the court is a puppet of the appointing presidents and their political biases are mistaken. Seven judges have been appointed by Republicans, and two by a Democrat. Reagan has four appointments; Rehnquist, Kennedy, Scalia and O’Connor.Bush I appointed Thomas and Souter. Ford appointed Stevens. Rehnquist was originally appointed by Nixon with Reagan making him chief justice. President Clinton appointed both Breyer and Ginsburg.The five votes in favor of taking were cast by Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, Kennedy and Stevens. The votes in opposition were cast by O’Connor, Thomas, Scalia and Rehnquist. This is not a ruling based on party lines or political divisions. This ruling affects every owner of land regardless of political beliefs and therefore should alarm all citizens. The full content of the affirmative and dissenting opinions may be found athttp://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgibin/getcase.pl?court=US&navby=case&vol=000&invol=04-108/.
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