Norwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, is entering the eminent domain sweepstakes, threatening to knock down a thriving, middle-class neighborhood and give the property over to a private developer who plans to build a $125 million blah blah blah complex. Reports the Cincinnati Enquirer:
City officials are considering designating the neighborhood "blighted" as a prelude to eminent domain—a government move that would force residents out so work can start on Rookwood Exchange, a $125 million complex of offices, apartments, condos, shops and restaurants.
Governmental bodies can take land by eminent domain for public uses including new roads, municipal buildings and public garages. They also can invoke eminent domain over areas deemed blighted. Property owners are supposed to be paid market value, and the public is supposed to benefit when neighborhoods are cleaned up.
Increasingly, however, cities, villages and state agencies have been trying to use their eminent domain powers to displace residents for commercial developments that include shopping centers, movie theaters and office towers. People don't understand how these developments possibly could be considered public uses.
The most disturbing quote in the story belongs to a developer who avers:
"I think more than anything, that you'd want to look at the highest and best use of the area. With the amount of traffic … the best use of the property is no longer single-family residential."
Sez you, buddy. More than anything, you'd want a developer to either offer enough money to get people to move or else site your development elsewhere.
On the up side, it's good to see the Cincy area get in the news for something other than anti-hotel-room porn crusades, police brutality, loss of population and jobs, and for having the only NFL franchise that would struggle against a Pop Warner team.