Drinks Are On the House


A happy day in Baltimore: A judge has stopped the city from seizing a bar:

Citing last year's Supreme Court ruling that affirmed government's right to seize private property for economic development, [Judge John Philip] Miller wrote that Kelo v. New London showed that to take property for economic development, a city must show "a carefully considered development plan."

Baltimore, the judge ruled, did not.

Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Scott Bullock, who argued Kelo before the Supreme Court on behalf of the property owners and was aware of Baltimore's Charles North case, said it shows how in the aftermath of Kelo, courts are increasingly scrutinizing property seizure cases.

"It demonstrates that the courts are now embarking to set their own course when it comes to eminent domain abuse," Bullock said. "It seemed like this case was so egregious and so sloppy."

In other Baltimore, bar, and business news, one of our local taverns is selling its liquor license on eBay.

Elsewhere in Reason: Our post-Kelo interview with Bullock is here.

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  1. It’s nice that the negative press has resulted in reducing eminent domain abuse. But how long is that going to last I wonder? Had Kelo been decided correctly by the SCOTUS we’d be living in a much better society. As it is, we’re reduced to “it’s not so bad”.

  2. Some one needs to buy this up and turn St Stanislaus in Fell’s Point into a brew pub like the Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh. Two birds, one stone.

    Sure Fell’s Point needs another bar like a hole in the head, but given that there’s only 1 1/2 functioning brew pubs there and that the alternative is probably more condos, I’ll take the hole.

    And of course, the biddies trying to save the church will bitch and moan, but they already failed in their attempt to bake sale the problem away, and if the exterior remains intact and a small Polish history museum is attached, they’ll deal.

    Anyone have an extra $750,000 lying around?

  3. a city must show “a carefully considered development plan.”

    not that it changes the fundamental issue of a private taking, but redevelopment vehicles in MO (i’m thinking of TIF in particular) by which eminent domain is generally used has always necessitated that the taking conform to a specific comprehensive plan.

    so at least here, it’s never really been the case where any property is taken just because the proposed development would increase economic activity. there are other hurdles involved.

    again, that may not make the end result any more proper.

  4. Merging this eminent domain thread and McGovern’s Wal-Mart thread, we have yesterday’s news from Hercules, California…

    The Hercules City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to take the unprecedented step of using eminent domain to prevent Wal-Mart from building a big-box store on a 17-acre lot near the city’s waterfront…

    “Throw the bums out,” Hercules resident Steve Kirby said at the podium of Wal-Mart. “Wal-Mart will never understand what we want.”

  5. “Throw the bums out,” Hercules resident Steve Kirby said at the podium of Wal-Mart. “Wal-Mart will never understand what we want.”

    I guess just not shopping there wasn’t good enough for Steve. He would only be satisfied if everyone else was deprived of the opportunity as well. IF Wall-Mart doesn’t understand what anyone wants, why is it that people continue to shop there? I guess to anti-market nitwits like this guy, people really don’t make choices that are in their best interests but instead are seduced by evil corporations into doing horrible things like buying cheap stuff at Wall-Mart.

  6. As much as I hate ED, it’s a kind of poetic justice; since WallyWorld has benifited from ED so often in the past.

  7. Waiting for joe to tell us how this proves we never had anything to worry about from Kelo and this is how the system is supposed to work. Just don’t be so “egregious and sloppy,” cover your tracks for Chrissake!!

  8. “As much as I hate ED, it’s a kind of poetic justice; since WallyWorld has benifited from ED so often in the past.”

    Very true. Wall-Mart definitely has some karmic payback coming for ED. That said, however, to have some rich jackass and get up and pretend to tell the rest of the world what retailers do and do not provide what people want really gets under my skin.

  9. Hercules is a few miles away from my house. It’s a very small self-contained planned community for those who can afford townhomes starting at 850k.

    IMHO this battle is very split along social class lines because there is a sharp economic drop-off surrounding Hercules on all sides.

    “Our City Council really came through,” said Brenda Smith Johnson, an information technology vice president with JP Morgan Chase in San Francisco who moved to Hercules in 1992.

    Some residents have said they would prefer grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or Andronico’s, and specialty shops like those in Berkeley’s swank Fourth Street district.

    The city was the first in the state to adopt a redevelopment code that prescribes the design of streets, building dimensions and some architectural requirements, such as front porches. A key part of the plan called for a waterfront village with high-density housing and shops, a shoreline park, a train station, bus service and even a ferry stop.

  10. Obi,

    Would it be fair to say that this is just a case of snob zoning?

  11. John,

    Looks like it to me. After all, who wants the type of person that shops at Wal*Mart having any reason to come into their pristine community?

  12. This is a good thing, but we need a broader range proscription against Kelo style government theft. We can’t just depend on the fortunate rulings of judges.

  13. First, let me say that this is a good outcome.
    Next, let me say that I think Kelo was a horrible decision.

    Granted both of those points, but assuming that the judge actually based his ruling on Kelo — it’s not clear from the article whether that was merely an incidental point or the basis of the decision — it was a lousy ruling. Nowhere in Kelo does it say that “a carefully considered development plan” is required. It’s wishful thinking to suggest it said that.

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