Property Rights

Wall Street Journal on Eminent Domain Abuse in Brooklyn

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The Wall Street Journal has a nice editorial today criticizing New York for the Atlantic Yards land grab:

The anti-Kelo wave is cresting in New York this week as plans for a new basketball arena clash with the property rights of state voters in a watershed state court case.

In Goldstein v. New York State Urban Development Corporation, residents and business owners are challenging the state's use of eminent domain to condemn private property in a Brooklyn neighborhood for the benefit of a private developer. Spawned by developer Forest City Ratner, the "Atlantic Yards" project would build a new venue for the New Jersey Nets, along with office towers and apartment buildings.

According to the state and developer, this qualifies as a "public use"—the designation required to justify the seizure of private property under the law. Once limited to public projects like roads or bridges, "public use" has become an evolving legal concept that considers assorted "public benefits" provided even in a private development. Under that standard, nearly any new building project would qualify if it could be judged more appealing than current occupants of the property.

Read the whole thing here. I discuss the case here.