Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Eminent Domain and Cleveland's Innerbelt Plan

Eminent Domain can be an issue for residents and business owners alike. Familiar with the term? Eminent Domain is when property is 'taken' by a government, usually at a fair market price to the owner of that property. Oh, and just because they are going to get a fair market price doesn't mean said property owner is pleased about the idea! Lakewood Ohio residents had to become familiar with this issue quickly when the City Mayor and Council liked a mixed use development plan proposed by a developer; they declared a swath of homes and businesses in Western Lakewood blighted so they could tear existing property down in order to make way for this development. I wrote about how this mobilized the Lakewood community. The plan did not move forward. But people in Lakewood have stayed mobilized! Lakewood City government peeps said it was for the public good, but it was an attempt to use eminent domain in a way that was non-traditional. It has been successful for example, when used to build schools or roads. Which brings me to the most recent use of it.

The Innerbelt Plan or redesign has been in the works, and now the beginning of the project seems to be starting. Business owners in the affected areas have been sent letters by The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) stating their property is being 'taken' and they will be offered fair market value for them. Crain's Cleveland tells the story and interviews a few commercial property owners here. No matter what the public good, it's always a dicey issue, especially for the property owners involved.

Well, not always. I recall living in Rockville Maryland when a block of residents in that city's east side tried to get all the homeowners to assemble their properties so that block, already near transit and commercial development, could be rezoned commercial; allowing them to get a pretty price for their property. That did not work in this case, but it has worked in other areas. I am always intrigued at the number of times this issue reappears. In any event, ODOT (to get back to the latest story) did say that if a building/business owner could show why waiting until the timetable ODOT had established to purchase their property was going to provide undue hardship, it might be possible to buy the property sooner. The Innerbelt Plan itself can be followed here. Peace Out - 3C

2/28/07 - Oddly enough, there is a short blub about eminent domain on the NAR 'on line' magazine website today - good facts, recent court decisions, etc.


Cosmokramur said...

Isn't the greater good logic used to further eminent domain?

Cleveland Carole Cohen 3C said...

You are right, there is supposed to be a greater good for the general public involved in the eminent domain taking of property. I think the issue has been whether or not increasing the tax base with large development sites falls into acceptable eminent domain general good category. And I know the Lakewood issue got waylayed on the 'blighted neighborhood' issue. Governments are always after our greater good aren't they? :-) Just a little bad morning humor.