Huge Property Rights Victory in Ohio


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.

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  1. Apparently the court stated that the taking would have violated Ohio’s constitution, not the US constitution. IANAL, but that would seem to preclude an appeal to the SCOTUS.

  2. The SCOTUS originally left it up to the states, so I’m sure they wouldn’t have heard an appeal anyway.

  3. You’re both right. IF, AND ONLY IF, the Oh. SC found it violated the state constitution, I think there would be no hope of appeal. Great news, BTW.

  4. Wow, a victory for property rights? Never thought I’d see the day.

  5. This is good news.

  6. One major componet of Kelo case was that the City of New London had a comprehensive redevelopment plan. The City’s ‘plan’ in this case didn’t seem as comprehensive.

    This case will just teach other municipalities how to take property the ‘right’ way. Come up with some comprehensive rezoning plan, sit on it for a few years, THEN steal property from homeowners.

  7. Where these city fathers see blight I see people living within their means.

    I wonder how much of this city’s need to “enhance revenues” has to do with providing basic city services and how much has to do with the city fathers building appropriate monuments to their self-assumed greatness.

    Just as we do the politicos need to learn to live within their means.

  8. The phrase for today, boys and girls, is “phyrric victory”. Most of the homes have already been destroyed.

    One question this whole practice of seizing poor people’s property to build playgrounds for the rich is “Where are we poor people going to live?”

    Notice that if the neighborhood has a high crime rate or outbreaks of disease, it can still be labeled “blighted” and seized. Unfortunately, both can easily occur in a poor area. So while I agree this is a victory on paper, it’s a very fragile one.

  9. The victory for property owners in Ohio is well deserved. I live in Norwood and have followed this story from its inception. For those not familiar with the area in question it was far from a “poor” neighborhood. As far as I can figure if you’re purchasing homes in the neighborhood of $125,000 to $185,000 then you’re not so much poor but middle class. This area borders a rather upscale Cincinnati community, Hyde Park, where homes sell from $350,000 into the low millions. The homes in this area were far from blighted, there were a couple homes in the area that needed paint, but these were in the minority. The location is excellent, right at the crux of two major interstates and ten minutes from downtown Cincinnati. I would hope that the next case would preclude the rezoning of the area for commercial uses. The victory would be a hollow one if the remaining homes were enveloped by commercial uses.

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