Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wilmington Land Grab

...or "we're from the government and we're here to help"....

The Wilmington City Council voted to use eminent domain to snatch properties from business owners in downtown Wilmington to turn them over to a developer. It's Kelo gone wild.
From the Wilmington News Journal:

After two hours of heated debate, the City Council overwhelmingly passed a plan Thursday that allows the city to use eminent domain to condemn as many as 62 properties in South Wilmington.

The council voted 11-1 to approve the South Walnut Street Urban Renewal Plan. The plan is the city's blueprint for South Wilmington's future and includes taking properties of up to 38 working businesses and selling them to developers who would continue high-end residential and commercial redevelopment of the once entirely industrial area.

Charles Potter Jr. was the only council member who voted against the plan....

Potter was unsuccessful in an attempt to get his colleagues to table the plan. He thinks private developers should be talking directly with the property owners in the area. "Let the natural progression of seller and buyer take place," he said. "The city shouldn't be involved in this, not at all."

A wonderful display of conscience by Mr. Potter.
One council member denied this vote had anything to do with eminent domain. Another said he would only vote to condemn a property if "there was clear evidence that serious, serious negotiations had taken place."

Well, that's encouraging. owners who pleaded with the council to table or reject the plan said taking away their livelihood was just as bad as taking their homes would be.

Keith Harvin of Harvin Foods said he came to Wilmington from Chester, Pa., 17 years ago. He was recruited by the city, which was trying to get businesses to locate in the then-barren area. "Now somebody wants to take my business," he said.

Gabe Feini, owner of Rodney Square Engineering, said he worked 14 hours a day, seven days a week, for years to make his skyscraper maintenance business a success. He used to live in his workplace as well, and he has thwarted four burglaries there over the years.

Now, he feels kicked to the curb by others wanting to share in the area's redevelopment, which he feels he helped launch.

Question: did those recruiters inform Mr. Harvin that the city council would take away his business seventeen years later when they no longer wanted him and he'd served their purposes?

Part of the area in question is across the street from the $200 million Christina Landing residential development. Christina Landing resident Catharine Lloyd suggested that both sides agree to do what's best for the city -- which is having the businesses agree to move. "You will get fair market value," she said to a chorus of boos from the property owners and their supporters.

Did Catharine Lloyd happen to notice those businesses across the way when she bought her home in Christina Landing? Why did she buy there if she didn't want to live across from them?

One of the reasons for the continued poverty of third world nations stems from a lack of property rights. (See the works of Hernando de Soto.) People aren't stupid. Why work day and not and take chances on a business if you don't have any right to the land and to your livelihood and everything can be taken at will by government thugs? While no one is accusing the Wilmington City Council of thuggery, having all one's worked for taken away by the government, offering "fair market value", can't feel good.

Why should anyone take a risk on establishing, operating and building up their business and clientele in Wilmington if the government can shut them down at will?

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At 8/25/2007 12:39 PM, Anonymous Alan Coffey said...

Great post Anna. We must keep the pressure on to counteract the money being applied to this situation by the developers.

We are on the right side here.

At 8/27/2007 5:09 AM, Blogger Thomas said...

I think the current crop of potential presidents could garner a lot of populist support if they were to come out behind an anti-eminent domain abuse constitutional amendment.

At 8/27/2007 9:08 AM, Blogger Duffy said...

Shouldn't "fair market value" be defined by uh...the market? Going into a store and waving a gun then taking an item you want and telling the shopowner what I think is fair isn't shopping. It's thievery.


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