Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More on the Golf Course Taking

Edward Herlihy has commentary with more information about the possible golf course taking. Here is his description of the reason for the taking:
"No, the mayor of North Hills wants to use the power of government to condemn Deepdale--whose members are a diverse group of people from all over the country and around the world--to make it an exclusive high-end golf course restricted to people who live in his small village and would be willing to pay thousands of dollars in yearly membership fees. The model is said to be the nearby Village Club of Sands Point, which is owned by that village. There you not only have to pay village taxes but membership dues to join. A full family membership at the Sands Point club costs $18,000 a year. If this is indeed the model for Deepdale, the club would become 'public' in name only but in truth would be every bit as exclusive as any private club."
It seems likely that my earlier assumption that the course was being taken to be turned into a municipal golf course was incorrect.

"The mayor even went on television twice recently to brag about his plan. He told WNBC reporter Greg Cergol that turning Deepdale into "a village golf course exclusively for the village residents" would be a nice "amenity" for them. According to the reporter, the mayor explained that "his goal" is "to turn Deepdale into a private club for his village's 5,000 residents." And he told Channel 12's Bill Mooney that his plan would "increase property values"--private property values--in North Hills.

This goes way beyond Kelo. The planned condemnation of Deepdale, if accomplished, would violate the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits the government from taking private property unless it is for a "public use," even when the property owner is justly compensated for the taking. Although Kelo gave local governments significant leeway in determining what a proper "public use" is, it did not abandon all limitations on what is allowable. The Supreme Court took care to emphasize that local governments must still act for a valid "public purpose" in taking property, and may not do so merely "to benefit a particular class of identifiable individuals." Yet that is exactly what North Hills seeks to do with Deepdale: It wants to condemn a private golf course so that its residents can use it as their own de facto private golf club and thereby increase their property values. No court has ever upheld such a taking, and no court could reasonably do so under Kelo."
Boy, I would like to think he is correct in his analysis of Court opinions. It seems to me that this specific taking should be considered unconstitutional, but I'm afraid it is not clear the Court will say that it is. After all, the local government will apparently become the property owner. In the Kelo case after the property was taken it would become owned by another private individual, not by government. If government owns the property, is it clear we can say it is not in "public use?"

11 comments:

Publius said...

"In the Kelo case after the property was taken it would become owned by another private individual, not by government. If government owns the property, is it clear we can say it is not in "public use?""

Not necessarily. The government owns parks and they are for public use.

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