Local Legislators Fight for Property Rights

By: Stephanie Baker
By: Stephanie Baker

November 11, 2005
If the government thinks your property could be more useful for commercial development to boost the economy, a Supreme Court ruling gives them the power to take it. News 12 is on your side with what your local lawmakers are doing to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

Local homeowners are worried that they may soon have no place to go. Bascom Blesdoe lives in a busy area, and there is a chance he may have to leave because of eminent domain.

“People work hard for their property,” Blesdoe said.

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled five to four in Kelo v. the City of New London that Connecticut could require homeowners to give up their property for commercial use. Political Science Professor Ray Mikell says this ruling gives local governments the go-ahead.

“Public mood is generally not to allow this,” Dr. Mikell said.

This is why the House passed a bill this month to block the seizure of private property for use by developers. It’s a policy the president supports.

Busy roads have to be widened, and the government can take property for reasons that benefit the public as a whole. But, local legislators want it to stop there.

State Representative Barry Flemming told the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Tuesday that he will make sure eminent domain is only used to seize property in areas where the government needs the land for city improvements.

“What we’re gonna do in Georgia is make sure that in Georgia, no taxpayer’s property will ever be taken by local governments because they want increased tax revenue,” Flemming said.

Bascom Blesdoe is okay giving up his house for government projects.

“If I buy property, and they need it for a road extension or something,” Blesdoe said.

But that’s where he draws the line. Governments started taking private property long before the ruling. Some examples include Dodgers Stadium, a General Motors plant in Detroit, and some 10,000 other cases spanning from 1998-2002.


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