Nancy Morey: Vote ‘yes’ for private property rights in Silverthorne
The Town of Silverthorne charter amendment being voted on now (early voting began this week) through election day August 14 is about giving the people more of a voice than they presently have in the town’s use of eminent domain. It is innovative in that it gives voters the right to decide whether the costs of the eminent domain process are worth the community benefits. And this alone should be the focus of this election. Eminent domain is not to be taken lightly, as evidenced by the long history of its abuses by state and local governments (anyone interested can research these easily enough; I’m not going to even partially list them).
I would urge voters to not be short-sighted or indeed blinded by their desire for immediate gratification of an asphalt recpath (however important its purpose to some) and to not miss this opportunity to strengthen private property rights by simply adding another layer of protection against the use of eminent domain, which will not interfere with the construction of critical infrastructure (roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, etc.) The investment in one’s property and business is, for most, the most important investment they will ever make. We have seen our property values erode for the past five years.
There have been many instances in past decades of governments abusing eminent domain. The ramifications of this election go far beyond the single-minded purpose of building a recpath. In the single-minded focus of constructing a recpath (seemingly at any cost) beyond a walkway (as defined by the court in February) the far larger issue of eminent domain, in my opinion, has been lost. In a clear and concise editorial by the editorial board of this newspaper on December 1, 2011, it was correctly pointed out that: “This is an amenity, not critical infrastructure, negating the argument that the nuclear bomb of eminent domain is justified to serve the community in this case.” The last paragraph of this editorial read “… once a town government resorts to fighting its citizens in court or exercising eminent domain, it has lost some percentage of its good will with that community … No recpath is worth the damage this kind of action will bring.”
But again, this election is not about a recpath. I hope the registered voters of Silverthorne will look at the larger picture and realize the importance of voting YES.
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