April 18, 2006
Private: Eminent Domain in Florida
In Lakeland, Florida, a potential eminent domain showdown is developing between city officials looking to revitalize what they see as blighted neighborhoods, and homeowners who have no desire to abandon their property in the name of "progress." The Lakeland Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency has drawn-up a $10 million plan designed to redevelop 14 "blighted" acres of land by erecting roughly 400 townhouses and condominiums. While the Agency has been able to negogiate purchases from over fifty landowners, a handful of holdouts remain leading to the city commencing with eminent domain procedures. At least one of these reluctant landowners complains that the offer made by the CRA is well below the value of his land, violating the "just compensation" requirement of the takings clause.
This budding controversy is a sample of debates taking place across the country on the heels of the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. City of New London which enraged many who agreed with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's observation that the Court's ruling raised "specter of condemnation... over all property."
(Hat Tip: Daily Kos)