Friday, October 14, 2005

Bad Half - Good Half

Some Pennsylvania lawmakers say they want to limit the power of eminent domain.
"Ms. Kelo's pink cottage in New London was doomed after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that government can force owners to sell their property to make way for private businesses that generate more taxes.

Lawmakers want to ensure Pennsylvanians' properties are protected from a similar fate.

'The idea that one taxpayer's property can be taken by government and turned over to another private person for non-governmental purposes is outrageous,' said state Sen. Jeffrey E. Piccola, R-Dauphin.

He is sponsoring legislation to restrict municipalities' rights to take property by eminent domain. Similar legislation by Rep. Thomas Yewcic, D-Cambria, is in committee.

At least 35 other states are considering similar bills.

Stumping for Mr. Piccola's bill yesterday were Sens. John C. Rafferty Jr., R-Montgomery, and Patricia H. Vance, R-Cumberland; and Rep. Glen R. Grell, R-Cumberland, who is introducing identical legislation in the House.

Under their plan, municipalities could seize property under certain circumstances -- for example, to remove blighted structures that are beyond repair and unfit for habitation or use. Municipalities also could take unoccupied properties that have been tax delinquent for more than two years, have been abandoned by their owners or have liens totaling more than 150 percent of fair market value. Municipalities could condemn an entire area if more than half of the properties within it are eligible for seizure." [Tracie Mauriello, "Legislators aim to put limits on uses of eminent domain, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 14, 2005]
I don't understand the last part. Why should city government be able to condemn "an entire area" just because 1/2 the area is "eligible for seizure?" Perhaps, there is a good half and a bad half. Why should the government be able to take the good half simply because someone figured out a way to define an area so that more that 1/2 of it is eligible to be condemned?

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