Ohio’s Highest Court Rejects “Bogus Blight”

Short story: it’s a win, but the eminent domain advocates aren’t going to give up. I would write something long-winded about this amazingly good decision for Ohio property owners but it Reason Hit & Run already has the best commentary linkfest:

The Ohio Supreme Court has unanimously rejected the city of Norwood’s attempt to take property in an allegedly “deteriorating” neighborhood and hand it over to a private developer. The court called the “deteriorating” label, applied to areas that are admittedly not “blighted” but might (or might not) become so one day, a “standardless standard,” and it rejected the “economic development” rationale for the use of eminent domain that the U.S. Supreme Court endorsed in Kelo v. New London. The Institute for Justice, which represented the property owners in the case, calls the decision “a complete and total victory for Carl and Joy Gamble, Joe Horney, the Burtons and every home and business owner in the State of Ohio.”

Here is the opinion.

Something I can add is that Bill Peirce, who is running for governor of Ohio, has stated that the proposed Constitutional Amendment to protect homeowners will likely remain part of his campaign platform, as he relayed his thoughts via email:

It is a huge win for the Norwood people, but (1) we are still figuring out what damage can still be done to homeowners and small businesses, and (2) the counterattack will begin at next Monday’s Task Force meeting–there is talk of a Constitutional Amendment to allow e.d. for econ development.

It looks like Ohio is still taking shape for the eminent domain battle, with things lining up to be a fight between homeowners and developers.

[disclaimer: Stephen VanDyke is an avid supporter and ally of the Peirce for Ohio Governor campaign and has received payment in association with his work for them. His opinion here is not paid for or endorsed by the candidate]

7 Comments
  1. I think it’s wise to continue pushing for state legislation for protecting property owners. Who knows what a state court might decide five years from now?

  2. As glad as I am for such a one-sided (the right sided) victory, it is a truly sad state of affairs that it takes a court’s proclamation to define property rights as actual rights.

  3. And the phrase for today, boys and girls, is “phyrric victory”.

    http://mywaronpoverty.com/blog/?p=11#respond

    Notice that if the neighborhood has a high crime rate or outbreaks of disease, it can still be labeled “blighted” and seized. Unfortunately, a poor neighborhood can easily fall under either catagory.

    One question that this practice of seizing poor people’s property to build homes for the rich is this–where do they expect us to live?

  4. I hope the people that live in that area remember this when they go to vote in the next election and vote the dirtbags out of office that put these homeowners out of their homes to begin with.

  5. Thank you for posting the information. I have been collecting many items on eminent domain for a very long time because the city that I live in wants to take my home of over 20 years because I literally live on the wrong side of the tracks (new light rail coming through) and now they want TOD where my house sits (read that high end loft living above businesses). They want to put a parking lot where my house is situated for the rich folks. I live in a working class neighborhood. The city claims that 10 blocks are blighted. I demanded proof of blight on my block. There were “open dumpsters” at the apartment complex down the block. Somehow this “health and safety” violations counts as blight. They said also that there were higher police calls in the area (apartments again) but, as I checked into it, the Walmart (one block outside the “blight study area” ) had more police calls to it than any of the 10 blocks combined! We are poor, not evil.

    Lakewood Colorado

  6. I wonder if someone from Bill Pierce’s campaign would like to explain how his support for land value taxation might help address this particular eminent domain issue?

    Stephen – any thoughts?