Sunday, July 6, 2008

Diversify Myself Three

One hot topic that bubbles up here and there on FriendFeed is eminent domain abuse.

Mark Horne shared a story from Nashville:

23 Music Circle East - Nashville, TN to be precise. And broken may be the kindest way to describe what the owner of the business at that address faces. Shattered, decimated, mercilessly hounded into oblivion all come to mind to describe what Joy Ford, owner of Country International Records (CIR), is facing at the hands of Nashville’s Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA).

For almost 30 years, Ford and her late husband Sherman, have operated one of the first studios on what would become Music Row at that address. While much of the rest of the Row has gone corporate with multi-million dollar facilities, CIR remains privately owned. This earns CIR the classification of an Independent label or “Indie” as it’s known in the trade....

If government has anything to say about it, that won’t be true much longer. Chas Sisk at The Tennessean, who has covered the story since March, reports,

"The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency filed papers in a Nashville court Friday to start a process that would take the offices of Country International Records at 23 Music Circle East.

"The action, the city’s first test of eminent domain since the state legislature tightened condemnation laws two years ago, was taken after the agency determined that negotiations with building owner Joy Ford would not work, said Joe Cain, the agency’s development director.

"'We’re not having any conversation,” Cain said. “We’re hopeful that now she will meet with us.'"

RapidEye shared a story from Raleigh:

The City Council voted 6-1 this afternoon to allow a condemnation lawsuit to be filed against a major downtown property owner whose permission is needed to build the City Plaza.

The city attorney’s office could file a condemnation lawsuit as early as two weeks from today against The Simpson Organization. The condemnation action would not take any actual property from Simpson; it would just give the city the easement it needs to proceed with construction of the City Plaza.

Simpson is the owner of the Bank of America building and the underground parking garage directly under Fayetteville Street. For more than a year, the city has been negotiating with the Atlanta company to obtain the easements it needs to put the plaza and roadway over the company's property....

City Manager Russell Allen recommended condemnation after concluding that negotiations between the city and Simpson could drag on indefinitely....

A. Boyd Simpson, the president of The Simpson Organization, sent a letter to Allen on Monday warning the city not to pursue condemnation against his company. The company submitted another document titled “Facts Regarding Negotiation of City Plaza Easement” to the City Council today.

It includes a long list of complaints about how the city has mishandled the negotiations.

And Ian Whalen shared a June 23, 2008 story from Brooklyn:

As previously noted, today is the third anniversary of the Supreme Court's terrible Kelo decision, which upheld New London, Connecticut's use of eminent domain to seize private property on behalf of the Pfizer Corporation. Unfortunately, though perhaps fittingly, the Court today signaled its unwillingness to revisit the issue, refusing to hear the case of Goldstein v. Pataki, one of the first major eminent domain appeals since the Kelo ruling came down.

At issue in Goldstein is the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, New York, a 22-acre boondoggle centered on a new taxpayer-subsidized basketball stadium for the New Jersey (soon-to-be Brooklyn) Nets. All told, more than 40 business owners and tenants face losing their property to the real estate developer (and New Jersey Nets owner) Bruce Ratner, whose Forest City Ratner Companies is overseeing the project along with New York's quasi-public Empire State Development Corporation.

If eminent domain were a swamp, Jim Stafford would have the perfect song (the lyrics are from the end of "The Last Chant," by the way):

Sometimes I wonder what you'd do
If the swamp moved in on you?
Scratched on your screen, slipped down your waterspout
Tapped you on the shoulder and said "YOU move out!"

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