Eminent Domain

Mount Vernon, New York, Insufficiently "Pretty," Says City Council. Eminent Domain Abuse Ensues.

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Yesterday the Mount Vernon, New York, city council declared nearly eight acres of the city, which borders on New York City, blighted. The designation means officials can create an urban renewal plan for the south side neighborhood—which is 90 percent African American according to census data—and use eminent domain to seize property for private developers. In fact, a private developer, MVP Realty Associates, which intends to build a "transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly, intergenerational mixed income destination," paid for the blight study.

Via the Mount Vernon Daily Voice:

"This is exactly what we need to move forward," said Council President Roberta Apuzzo. "…It's not safe, clean or healthy and the only way to get the drug addicts out of the community is to make the place pretty."

Of the 67 properties included in the blight study, the consultant found 38 to have a "blighting influence." Half are either owned by the city or controlled by MVP Realty. Nine of MVP's 10 properties were found blighted by the consultant and some have previously been declared uninhabitable by the city.

Some private owners dispute that their properties warrant the label:

I reviewed the blight study, and I don't think 'poor' is the proper word for a wall that needs to be repainted," said Bishop William Ewell, associate minister of the New Hope Cornerstone Church, whose property was found to be in "poor condition." 

The designation means that property owners who wish to maintain their properties could be forced to sell to MVP or have the city seize their property. Threatened properties include single and multi-family homes, apartment buildings with ground-floor retail, four churches, and businesses including a daycare with a well-maintained playground, a nail salon, delis, a Jamaican restaurant, a laundromat, and small grocery stores.  

The proposed plan borders on another urban renewal area, established in 1981, the main accomplishments of which, according to the consultant, has been to attract a supermarket and chain auto parts retailer to the neighborhood.

New York is one of only six states that did not reform its eminent domain laws in the wake of Kelo v. New London, in which the Supreme Court held that seizing property for private development is a public use.

Reason readers will recall the phenomenon of a developer owning a substantial amount of rundown property in a neighborhood declared blighted courtesy of a study paid for by the developer from the Columbia University project in Manhattan and the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.

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  1. …which is 90 percent African American…

    What a surprise.

    In the 1960s they referred to “Urban Renewal” as “Negro Removal.”

    How little things have changed.

    1. Have the community organizers in the neighborhood been handed fat donation checks for their full megaphone support yet? Because I think that’s SOP.

  2. I think blight is bullshit and I hope Brennan’s ghost weeps tears of blood for the abomination he brought forth, but South Side of Mount Vernon is a depressing and ugly town. Besides, if everything is so “blighted” the developer should be able to buy the properties for a song without government help.

    1. Besides, if everything is so “blighted” the developer should be able to buy the properties for a song without government help.

      Man, its almost like there’s a mechanism in place in a free market.

  3. “This is exactly what we need to move forward,” said Council President Roberta Apuzzo. “…It’s not safe, clean or healthy and the only way to get the black people out of the community is to make the place pretty.”

    FIFY

    1. “This is exactly what we need to move forward,” said Council President Roberta Apuzzo. “…It’s not safe, clean or healthy and the only way to get the black people out of the community is to make the place pretty steal their property.”

      FIFY

      1. “This is exactly what we need to move forward,” said Council President Roberta Apuzzo. “…It’s not safe, clean or healthy and the only way to get the black people out of the community is to arrest them for selling drugs.”

  4. The way they describe it, sounds like a northern copy of Hispaniola.

  5. The designation means officials can create an urban renewal plan for the south side neighborhood?which is 90 percent African American according to census data

    If the Democrats were in charge in New York, none of this would be happening.

    1. In particular:

      Mount Vernon is governed by a Mayor and a City Council. Currently serving in the second year of his first term is Clinton Young, mayor of the city, who is a Democrat. The City Council consists of five representatives. Each council member is elected at large and therefore represents all of the citizens of the city. As of April 2010, the City Council President is J. Yuhanna Edwards. The other members of the city council are Roberta L. Apuzzo, Diane Munro-Morris, Steven D. Horton, and Karen Watts. All members of the City Council are Democrats.

  6. “transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly, intergenerational mixed income destination,”

    I use these terms when creating jokes about urban planning, and then Urban Planners use them without irony.

    Is Government imitating art?

    1. One of the problems with these plans is that they envision getting the upper-middle class to move into the new communities and increase the tax base.

      However, there are only so many ‘Bourgeois Bohemians’ around.

      In fact, I think we past Peak Bobo in 2006.

    2. How can you be “transit-oriented” and a “destination” at the same time? Aren’t those mutually exclusive?

      What the hell does “intergenerational” mean when you are talking about a community? Are they groping for “multi-generational”?

      1. The words appeared in a seminar flyer. They don’t know what they mean.

      2. What the hell does “intergenerational” mean when you are talking about a community?

        Teenagers having sex with horny housewives and cougars, middle aged men having midlife crisis affairs with young secretaries and schoolgirls. That sort of thing.

  7. Nine of MVP’s 10 properties were found blighted by the consultant and some have previously been declared uninhabitable by the city.

    You’d think those would be the first ones the city bought and tore down, and that an owner which can’t keep 90% of its properties from being uninhabitable eyesores would be blackballed from doing any developments.

  8. FORWARD, LEMMINGS!

  9. One things for sure, you gotta love those bought and paid for politicians.

    http://www.Anon-Days.tk

    1. Wow. That comment is actually appropriate. The programming is getting better.

  10. Mount Vernon Council President Roberta Apuzzo sucks it.

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