Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Continuing Stupidity of Kelo v. New London

Last year I wrote the following column:

“One of the areas where the country may have lost ground in the last election is in the area of eminent domain. There seems to be wide agreement across political lines that the Kelo vs. New London decision, which gave local governments virtually unlimited power to usurp private property and turn it over to other, favored, private interests, was unwise and unjust. Only the far left, unfortunately represented by Supreme Court Justices Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg, and Souter (and in this case, Kennedy) are in favor of granting this power to government. With a Democrat majority in the Senate now, all prospects for another conservative justice to overturn this decision appear to have gone up in smoke.

Many states, and even the federal government, have taken steps to place limits on this expansion of power, and many citizens in affected areas are engaged in effective protests that have slowed down or even stopped several projects. Up until now, most arguments against this expansion of government power have centered on its unfairness to those whose property has been taken – and on the un-American character of this disregard for the property rights of average citizens.

What I have not seen much of, however, is the point that government bureaucrats are among the worst groups to be making decisions about the best uses for parcels of real estate. When a government entity decides to take an area of land and develop it commercially, some of the worst decisions imaginable can be made.

Nowhere is this more evident than in south Florida where Charlotte County decided it didn’t like the way a particular area was developing and took it all by eminent domain for the creation by a private developer of so-called, Murdock Village. So far, they are several years into the taking, whereby hundreds of home owners and businesses were kicked out, and $93.3 million dollars in bonds was raised to fund the endeavor. The citizens of Charlotte County are now paying $5.3 million dollars a year in interest on these bonds ($14,300.00 per day), and the first developer chosen was found not to have the expertise or the resources to do the job.

A second developer has just been selected, but will end up paying only about 80% of the county’s cost to purchase the land. As of today it does not appear that a single shovel of dirt has been turned, and it may be that it never happens.

So add stupidity to the more common reasons for opposing this expansion of eminent domain we call Kelo vs. New London."

My prediction has come true, and the citizens of Charlotte county are in for a further shellacking. Government agencies should stay out of the real estate business:

Murdock Village numbers sobering and shifting
By ZAC ANDERSON, Herald-Tribune

MURDOCK -- The true cost of the Murdock Village redevelopment project is coming into clearer focus, and the numbers are sobering for Charlotte County officials.

Based on developer Syd Kitson's current offer to the county, it could take three decades and upward of $160 million to pay off the county's loan for the project.

Only about half of that money -- between $72 and $90 million -- will come from Kitson; the rest will be tax dollars captured from the Murdock Village property owners through a special redevelopment district.

Kitson and county officials have said from the beginning that tax money would be needed to complete the 1,200-acre project

But because Kitson is only offering $15 million upfront, the county will have to finance the loan over a longer period than expected and spend more taxpayer money.

The complex financial scenario did not sit well with some county commissioners Thursday during a special meeting set up to explain the purchase agreement.

"These numbers right now are not my favorite," said Commissioner Tom D'Aprile

Kitson and the county's negotiators finished the deal on Wednesday, a major milestone for the Murdock Village project considering two other developers backed out during negotiations.

Commissioners have a month to look it over before a vote in early July.


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At 6:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is what happens when Liberals are allowed to make decisions for everyone. It's a shame that we can't deport them to Mexico.


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