Public University Seeks Land Via Eminent Domain

Writing at Insider Higher Ed, Kevin Kiley reports on Ball State University’s recent announcement that it may use eminent domain to acquire land for a campus expansion. He writes:

At a time when public university leaders regularly point to the advantages that private institutions have enjoyed over them in recent years – such as freedom from most state regulations, freedom to raise tuition, and often significant financial resources -- it’s easy to forget that the public universities still have one significant advantage. They are parts of the state, and that comes with a lot of powers.

Earlier this month, Ball State University’s board of trustees authorized the use of eminent domain – the power of the state to seize private property without the owner’s consent so long as the owner is compensated – to take a piece of property on which it plans to construct a hotel, conference center, restaurants, and dormitory for hospitality students.

If the university does follow through with the plan – and administrators stress that they are trying to reach an agreement with property owners to avoid actually using the power – it will be a rare example of a public university invoking eminent domain, and it could generate controversy, particularly given that the property wouldn’t be used for “traditional” educational purposes.

While public universities do enjoy an advantage on the eminent domain front by virtue of being part of the state, not every state government takes the public-private distinction as seriously as it should. New York, for example (as Kiley acknowledges in the story), happily wielded its eminent powers on behalf of Columbia University, an elite private institution, and the state’s highest court ultimately rubber-stamped the deal. Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court declined its opportunity to review the constitutionality of the Columbia land grab, which doesn’t exactly discourage other states from taking property on behalf of their own prestigious private colleges.

Perhaps we should just be relieved to learn that eminent domain is rarely used by public universities. Here’s hoping Ball State isn’t spearheading an unfortunate new trend.

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  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Here’s hoping Ball Street isn’t...

    You said Ball. And then you said "Street"...huh huh, huh huh, huh huh...wait...what?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    HAH! Firsteenth AGAIN, bitches!!!

    /whatev

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Secondieth!

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Thirdiest!

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Fofe!

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    FIZZIFF!

  • ||

    Are you finished?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Almaniac has finally lost it. I figured he would at least make it to the election.

  • Drave Robber||

    No, he's Swedish.

  • Caleb Turberville||

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    I always forget that. And that it's in Indiana - I always think Ohio for some reason.

    "Ball".....huh huh, huh huh, huh huh....

  • fried wylie||

    and administrators stress that they are trying to reach an agreement with property owners to avoid actually using the power

    "Nice piece of property you have there, be a shame if...etc etc"

  • Joe R.||

    Did they send Luca Brasi? In 30 seconds, your brains or your signature will be on this contract.

  • Raven Nation||

    Missouri - Kansas City did this a few years back. And didn't Columbia do something similar?

  • BakedPenguin||

    yup.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    I am guessing that "fuck off slaver" will have to be modified to fuck off thieves.

  • ||

    A slaver is already a thief.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Well, yes, a thief of liberty. I was hoping we could brand a big "T" on their foreheads, however.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    I have spent many a night in Muncie, going to punk shows at the No Bar and Grill (closed 1988). Naked Raygun, Big Black, Rollins Band, Social Unrest, Dead Milkmen, Scratch Acid, Mojo Nixon, JOT, Meat Puppets, Sun City Girls, Zero Boys, and many more...

    Anyway, eminent domain sucks.

    I'd rather Ball U. than I.U.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Go Eagles!

  • gad-fly||

    Since when did Eagles become the sovereign state of Indiana's State Bird?
    Imagining a red eagle is rather jarring.

    But I admit that I kind of like the name of Ball State Birdies.

    I attended one football game in Muncie back in 1997 when the 1996 MAC champion Ball State Cardinals hosted a new member of the conference, the Marshall Thundering Herd, a team coming off an undefeated 1996 and a national One-Double-A championship. Red-clad BSU students carried a large mock-cigarette around with the slogan "Smoke Moss." When the smoke had cleared, Randy Moss had caught a dozen passes and scored 5 touchdowns.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    I love how they imply that if an agreement is reached with the property owners, then it means the U didn't "invoke eminent domain". I'd be quite surprised if the topic of eminent domain doesn't come up early and often in the "negotiations".

  • Paul.||

    This.

    Example: The President's wife shows up at your school, flanked by Lawyers in wingtips and asks, politely, if you'd remove the soda machines from your campus.

  • Chupacabra||

    "flanked by Lawyers in wingtips"

    C'mon, now. You know that they'd send in the Health Swat Team.

  • Paul.||

    Funny story: A family friend is one of the top lawyers working at one of the top law firms in the country. He told me a story about how his neighbor's tree was beginning to block his view, so he sent him a nice letter asking him if he could maybe trim it a bit.

    He was amazed at how nice the guy was and how quickly he jumped into action.

    I listened to his story and then asked him if his letter said stuff like:

    [T]o the party residing at [address], I would like to bring attention to an issue regarding view and right-of-way in which a one (1) Maple Tree (heretofore referred to as "the tree") is currently interfering with the quality of said view for neighbor residing at [address].

    He laughed nervously and denied it...

  • LauraB||

    "dormitory for hospitality students"? Student hookers? Is that available as a major?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Also, how do get a job as a professor?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Can get job by write good? ME WANT KNOW!

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Get that Penguin tenure - STAT!

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    I just drove through the intersection where the property is located last winter, and was surprised by how derelict and depleted it was. In fact, all the area around campus looked like it was regressing. There are actually less record stores, sandwich shops, and other student hang-outs then there was 20 years ago. There are less houses in the "student ghetto" too. It was kind of sad, really.

    The campus has lots of shiny new buildings, though.

  • LauraB||

    When Columbia made their land grab, didn't they start by buying property and then letting it run down? They could then claim the area was blighted and force everyone else out.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    You know who else went to Ball State?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    My brother?

  • Raven Nation||

    Jason Whitlock?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    That guy that lives over there?

  • Paul.||

    They are parts of the state, and that comes with a lot of powers

    Every time I read this... I hear it in my head with a regimental German accent.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    They have veys of making you sell

  • Paul.||

    zey are paht of ze stayte... und zat comes mit a lot uf powahs...

  • gad-fly||

    The solution is very simple. Chris Hiatt of Hiatt Printing is the only landowner holding out. So they offer the deal of a lifetime to the man. They provide a business suite to accommodate his business and they guarantee instant name recognition by calling the new dormitory and business complex the Hiatt Hotel and Conference Center. Hmm, then again ... Hyatt would probably sue. But would the hosteler win?

  • Alex||

    Boy: What's "confiscate" mean, Pa?
    Anderson: Steal.

  • DJF||

    Here is a cartoon published in Walter Blocks "Defending the Undefendable"

    http://jimunro.blogspot.com/20.....chive.html

  • DJF||

    Oops wrong address, try this one

    http://bp0.blogger.com/_lL4RDB.....0/Blog.JPG

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