Eminent Domain

Thornton Colorado Officials Approve Eminent Domain for Private Use

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Menace to your morals.

Last night Thornton, Colorado city council members unanimously approved the second South Thornton Urban Renewal Plan, which allows the city to seize private property via eminent domain for transfer to private developers. The original plan was active from 1982 to 2007 and had slightly different boundaries.

From a Reason post last month on eminent domain in Denver:

Colorado lawmakers reformed the state's eminent domain statutes in the wake of the Kelo v. New London decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that seizing property for private development does not violate the Constitution. But they left an enormous loophole for local officials: blight, the statutory definition of which is so lax that nearly any neighborhood could fit the bill.

…Colorado law only gives property owners 30 days to challenge a blight declaration in court. So five years from now, if city officials decide to seize a property that was declared blighted this month, it will be too late for the owner to argue that their clearly non-blighted property isn't blighted.

The city paid a consultant to produce a Conditions Survey to determine that the neighborhood's 290 parcels qualify as a "menace to the public health, safety, morals, or welfare" based on Colorado's very broad blight laws. Factors that trigger the designation include:

  • "lack of landscaping,"
  • "slopes or unusual terrain,"
  • "presence of billboards," and
  • "cracked or uneven sidewalks."

According to the Conditions Survey none of the properties had a "high crime incidence" or generated "high fire dept. call volume" but 11 (3.8 percent) had "vagrants/vandalism/graffiti," which "while usually not a direct safety threat, can be indicative of unsafe urban environments."

Threatened properties include a home, three churches, a nursing home, and five apartment complexes, as well as numerous restaurants, offices, and other businesses.

In addition to the Urban Renewal Plan and Conditions Survey, consultant Ricker Cunningham produced a County Impact Report for $26,000. Colorado cities typically spend between $15,000 and $40,000 for these reports according to Christina Vincent of the Thornton Office of Economic Development.

Officials envision raising $91 to $112 million for infrastructure improvements, which might in turn attract private development. According to council member Val Vigil, that spending "doesn't guarantee that we're going to be able to attract any developers to come down with the economy the way it is today. It's going to be hard."

Thornton City Council members will consider adopting the East 144th and I-25 Avenue Urban Renewal Plan later this month. The two plans join the North Washington Street Urban Renewal Plan, which was approved in 2003.

Reason has tackled eminent domain abuse before.

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  1. We can’t allow slopes or unusual terrain in Colorado.

    1. Are they talking about Asians?

  2. You know what? I can’t wait until all city planners are fucking unemployed and looking for work.

    Let those parasitic scumbags flounder around taking whatever pathetic scraps they can get, part time library aide, substitute teacher etc.

    IF I have to spend the rest of my productive years in a depression, I’ll take the cold comfort of a little schadenfreude.

    1. Can you imagine falling to the level of substitute teacher? Is there anything more pathetic?

      1. Dude, I would rather be short than be a substitute teacher. I can’t imagine a worse fate.

        1. Dude, I would rather be short than be a substitute teacher. I can’t imagine a worse fate.

          Dude, I was born short (hobbit; get it?) and was a substitute teacher at the local high school several times whilst unemployed.

          You are what you are and you do what you have to do.

          … Hobbit

      2. I hear it’s a fun job for retired people who are really bored during the day and don’t need the $9/hour that it pays.

      3. Can you imagine falling to the level of substitute teacher? Is there anything more pathetic?

        In my mind a city planner – substitute teacher is not falling. It’s a step up in the world. Except for the godawful pay.

        But for city planners it’s a step down. No steady paycheck, the chance of not being called back, having to make nice to the vulgar masses’ little troglodytes.

  3. Did they pull the definition of “blight” out of their own asses, or did they ask the police for assistance?

  4. “cracked or uneven sidewalks.”
    So the city can create “blight” even where it doesn’t exist by simply failing to maintain its own property. Wonderful.

    1. Not only that, but a major property owner with multiple parcels who wants to take over the neighborhood can let his fall into disrepair, and then get a blight designation for the neighborhood.

  5. So five years from now, if city officials decide to seize a property that was declared blighted this month, it will be too late for the owner to argue that their clearly non-blighted property isn’t blighted.

    WTF

  6. Sounds like a good project for Colorado LP.

  7. I’d be okay with the theft if they were doing it ‘for the children’ or maybe to combat global warming or climate chaos…. or to save some rare bird or something.

  8. The vote was unanimous?!? Really, there isn’t one decent official in the entire city?… pathetic.

    1. This is a trick question, isn’t it?

  9. Thornton, Colorado city council members Heidi Williams, Jenice Dove, Eva Henry, Beth Humenik, Eric Tade, Mack Goodman, Val Vigil, Lynne Fox, and Randy Drennen are all enormous busybody fuckbags who probably take kickbacks from connected developers and have post-groundbreaking orgy cocktail parties where the only dip anyone ever bothers to bring is the shitty Sams Club brand.

    1. Thornton, Colorado city council members Heidi Williams, Jenice Dove, Eva Henry, Beth Humenik, Eric Tade, Mack Goodman, Val Vigil, Lynne Fox, and Randy Drennen are all enormous busybody fuckbags who probably take kickbacks from connected developers

      Fixed.

  10. So. All a city has to do to sell your property is to misappropriate your property tax and not spend it on the shit they made themselves responsible for? I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

    1. I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

      Seeing no other viable alternatives (such as relocation to another planet), the Thornton Death Panel will help you with your end-of-life….planning.

  11. Possible tactic to fight this shit: compensation should be real market value, the value of the property BEFORE the government went and declared it blighted, the price the developers would have paid for the property without government intervention. An objective procedure for determining this can be difficult, but it’s time we put a stop to crooked developers buying off councilmen to get good deals. Eminent domain was supposed to be for building schools and roads, not rewarding politically savvy contractors.

  12. If you haven’t done so, go to the Conditions Survey link in the article and check out the photos of “blight” in the photo. There is one shrub in there that just send the whole neighborhood to hell.

  13. Sounds to me like they need to bulldoze the place!

    http://www.EasyPrivacy.tk

  14. Shouldn’t you have to be a city to qualify someone else’s property for urban renewal? Thornton is a fucking suburb.

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