Bank to Seizers: Drop Dead


Comments stalwart Douglas Fletcher notes that Winston-Salem, NC-based bank BB&T Corp. (as Jacob Sullum discussed yesterday) has announced it will not provide loans for commercial projects on land seized through eminent domain. The move probably won't have a big practical impact, as BB&T, which has 1,400 branches in 11 states, has so far only been approached for one such loan and does almost 25 percent of its business in North Carolina, where Kelo-type seizures are ostensibly prohibited. The Charlotte Observer notes that the bank has a history of making "slightly eccentric demonstrations of its commitment to corporate citizenship," including endowments to local colleges for the study of the moral foundations of capitalism.

The New York Times story on BB&T's decision includes a disclosure statement about the Times' own eminent domain history, and quotes a representative from a developers' trade group think tank showing the kind of respect for OPP that makes these condemnations possible:

But Maureen L. McAvey, a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute, a developers' organization based in Washington, said that it was odd that a bank would not want to judge each case on its merits to see if the forced sale of property was justified.

"It's curious that a major financial institution would choose to be both judge and jury," she said.

And "both judge and jury" is a curious way to describe a bank's decision about whether or not to grant somebody a loan.