The following is a press release from the Civitas Institute, which is based in Raleigh. It is encouraging to see progressive steps being taken to protect our property from oppressive local governments.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PROPOSED TO PROTECT PRIVATE PROPERTY FROM LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
RALEIGH — “The Kelo v. New London decision by the U.S. Supreme Court has placed everyone’s property in danger, even in North Carolina,” declared Thomas Stith, Vice President of the Civitas Institute, a conservative public policy think tank headquartered in Raleigh. “The ruling opens the door for our state legislators to change current statutes to use eminent domain for economic development purposes, if they are persuaded to do so by local governments or other interested parties.”
As a member of the Durham City Council, Stith is familiar with the power local governments have to obtain property from citizens under eminent domain for “public use.” Most people understand “public use” to mean highways, bridges, government buildings, schools and prisons — not condominiums, hotels, shopping malls or private office buildings.
Stith said North Carolina law provides “specific conditions cities and counties can use to condemn private land” for roads, parks, sewage systems, government buildings and other facilities.
“I don’t think we should rely on our state legislators to keep the current restrictions on not allowing eminent domain to be used for economic development purposes,” Stith warned. “If legislators are convinced that taking citizen’s property for private development would create more taxes and jobs, then I fear that no one’s property in North Carolina would be secure.”
Stith said: “We need ironclad protection that would prevent legislators from ever making that change. We need a constitutional amendment. An amendment that defines ‘public use’ and prohibits economic development from ever being a reason governments could exercise their eminent domain powers.”
According to Stith, the Institute for Justice, a public interest legal organization that argued before the Supreme Court in the Kelo v. New London case, has reported that more than 10,000 properties in 41 states either face condemnation, or the threat of condemnation, by local governments for development.
He said the Civitas Institute is researching eminent domain case histories as a prelude to drafting language for a constitutional amendment. “Our goal is to ensure that every home, business, religious house of worship or piece of land is protected from being taken by government and turned over for commercial uses.”