Monday, August 13, 2007

Taking Trees In Oregon

This seems like an interesting, but confusing story:

VERNONIA -- The state Parks and Recreation Commissioned used its power of eminent domain to take ownership of trees on 113 acres inside the recently opened L.L. "Stub" Stewart State Park.

The vote came this week after Jim Smejkal of Banks notified the state Department of Forestry on that he planned to start logging 23 acres in mid-August.

"He had every right to begin to harvest trees on Aug. 16," said Tim Wood, director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. "And we don't want that to happen."

Wood said the commission last authorized eminent domain in 1978.

Under the condemnation, Smejkal will receive full-market value for the timber he still owns inside the park about 30 miles west of Portland. Earlier he logged about 25 acres, just as the new park was opening. . . . .

What seems interesting, yet confusing at the same time, is that a state park agency is using eminent domain to take trees in a state park. It is also interesting that the director of the Parks Department says the Mr. Smejkal had every right to harvest the trees that state government took through the power of eminent domain.

I suspect this confusion is cleared up by a comment posted to the news article by a reader:
He sold the property to the state for a park, but retained the rights to log it.

The state is now paying full market value for the trees; OPRD already bought the land and opened a state park on it!
Now this makes much more sense to me. The state bought the property so it could create a state park, but didn't want to pay full market value for the property. So the state did not buy the rights to log from the owner. Later, after the park opened, the owner still retained the right to log trees, and again, instead of buying the right to log from the owner the state decided to use it's power of eminent domain to take his right to log from him.

Of course, there is a difference between taking and buying, and I suspect the state will not have to pay as much to take the trees as it would to buy the trees.

["State uses eminent domain to take trees in new park," Statesman Journal, August 13, 2007]

Monday, August 06, 2007

Damaging & Taking?

Here is a confusing story in the news. I'm not sure I understand the story correctly, but this is how I think the story goes. A developer acquired some land to be part of a redevelopment project. The acquisition was paid for, not forced by government's use of eminent domain. Local government began working with the developer on the redevelopment project. But, apparently something changed and progress on the redevelopment project halted. The news story claims that this redevelopment project halted largely due to difficulties in aquiring needed land. Now local government seems to once again to be pursuing a redevelopment project for the same area, but local government doesn't seem to want to work with the developer any longer. Instead, local government is apparently now pursuing the idea of using it's power of eminent domain to take the property the developer had acquired for the first redevelopment project. In addition, the developer is asserting that the city continued redevelopment on neighboring parcels through demolition activities which also damaged the developer's properties. It just seems like there must be some shenanigans going on by local government in all this, eh?