Suppose you live in a town where a commercial development is trying to come in and “take” (in exchange for just compensation) several waterfront residences to build a new mall area with restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops. This new development is supposed to create 500 jobs and bring in countless visitors each year.
Over the past 25 years, the town’s economy has been tolerable, but not booming, the tax base has been shrinking because of younger people moving away, and what was once a major tourist economy is languishing.
Is there a constitutional and/or public policy argument that would legally support the taking of these properties against the will of the residents? Explain.
Taking the opposite side, are there legal arguments against the taking? Be sure to include specific examples and case law to support your work.
Note: A legal argument is required. An emotional one can be valid, but it is not legal or constitutional.
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I would say there are some constitutional arguments that legally supports taking of properties against the will of the residents if the economy will grow, create jobs, bring visitors to the community to shop at the mall and eat at the new restaraunts. I can see how this would benefit acommunity. In the case Kelo v. City of New London, the Supreme Court decided that eminent domain allows a transfer of land from one private owner to another to further the economic development. The courts held that a community will benefit from the growth the economy will have. Therfore, taking the property would be permissible under the Taking Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
A legal argument against taking land would be the case of Adams v. Housing Authority of City of Daytona Beach. The aquisistion for eminent domain to lease to a private developer was denied by Florida Supreme Court. The housing authorities authorized and undertook a redevelopment project that would cause the clearing of approximately sixty Negro families living in the projects. Their intentions were to make the land available for sale or lease to private entities. The court ruled that the public would not benefit from the redevelopment.
In Kelo v. New London (545 U.S. 469) the question remains, does the government have the right to take private property under the “public use” provision of the “takings clause” of the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? New London Connecticut was suffering a recession due to the closing of the U.S. Navy Undersea Warfare Center base. To provide relief, the city decided to use eminent domain for economic purposes claiming the acquisition would improve the current financial crisis as well as create jobs and that the Fifth Amendment did not require a literal interpretation based on land that could be used for a public purpose. The 90-acre parcel was acquired so that Pfizer Pharmaceuticals could build a facility for economic development purposes that would be for public benefit (jobs and additional tax income). The land was classified as having older buildings in poor shape and having high vacancies.
The case eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court on June 23, 2005, as some residents would not sell. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the city had the right to obtain the property under eminent domain as it was for the benefit of the public. This decision was met with some fallout. Many felt that Pfizer never put in writing a promise to create jobs nor to improve the area for the benefit of the public. Even if some of the residents of that area had accumulated back taxes. This remains an issue in all cases of big business taking over private neighborhoods. As this case ends, Pfizer merged with Wyeth, they closed their current facility in New London at a loss of over 1,000 employees and the area has now turned into a dump of debris from Hurricane Irene in 2011. The promise of jobs and tax revenue never materialized.
Although Amazon Corporation headquartered in Seattle Washington brings into the city over 297M in annual taxes (Geek Wire), it is never a guarantee that a city will use that money for the necessity of providing infrastructure to accommodate additional business such as roads, fire, and police. I am not sure how you would hold an independent corporation to a set amount of job creation. Any city does not have to justify where their tax revenue is spent. Consequently, the downtown area of Seattle has one of the worse traffic nightmares in the country as well as an increased crime due to the homelessness and the drug population. It is estimated that the total annual price tag for the homeless in the region is more than $1 billion. (Puget Sound Journal). Although the courts decided the New London case was valid, I personally do not want to agree to big businesses buying their way onto the private lands of the American citizens. There is never a written guarantee that can satisfy the justification of taking private property to give to a business or corporation.
Kelo v. City of New London – 545 U.S. 469, 125 S. Ct. 2655, 162 L. Ed. 2d 439, 2005 U.S. LEXIS 5011, 10 A.L.R. Fed. 2d 733, 35 ELR 20134, 60 ERC (BNA) 1769, 18 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 437. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.lexisnexis.com/community/casebrief/p/c…
Nickelsburg, M. (2020, January 11). Does Amazon pay enough in taxes? Source says local tax bill was $297M last year. Retrieved from https://www.geekwire.com/2020/amazon-pay-enough-ta…
Secaira, M. (2018, August 31). Supporting homeless individuals: How much do we spend? Retrieved from https://crosscut.com/2018/08/supporting-homeless-i…