Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Ohio to Test Limits on KELO

A property rights case to watch in Ohio.

Discussions - 8 Comments

Of course, neocons don’t care at all for property rights - they just interfere with their globalist projects.

Just another reason to join the Conservative Exodus Project


You got it. In addition to "Justin" and "John," he/she has also been known to go by "Brian," "Old Republic," and "Unreconstructed."

Looks like you can add "Ronald" to the list as well.

Real conservatives hate spammers.

Julie, I’ve been watching it. The Flats is an area of Cleveland that was doing very well, but the last couple of mayors were not careful about controlling crime, and the area is derelict. However, the legalized theft of property, the value of which has declined because of criminal activity allowed by a neglectful or corrupt city administration, is truly horrible. Good government ought not behave like this. How did we get here?

I asked my expert on Cleveland politics, eating dinner in the kitchen, how Judge Corrigan might be likely to rule. He says, "It will be interesting to find out." The Wolstein development would probably be good for Cleveland, but at the expense of private property rights? Who can like that?

This case illustrates a pretty common problem with eminent domain: the government low-balling the property owner. The offered price was ridiculously low. It wouldn’t be so hard for them to buy the land if they offered a fair price.

I am taking a class in Eminent Domain this semester, and have thought about it from time to time.

In Ohio, in non quick-take takes ( quick take is for roads or war), before a government can offer any money for the property to be "taken," it has to get an appraiser to appraise and then the offer is based on that. Government officials do not want to give more than the appraisal, though appraisers do tend to appraise low since they want repeat business from the government.

Norwood made VERY clear that State government can still take blighted areas. If the flats truly are blighted, they will be taken. Furthermore, Norwood did NOT refute Berman (to my knowledge). Berman held that government can take non-blighted property if it is in a blighted area. Governments will simply find a critical mass of blight, and then lasso in non-blighted properties if that is what they want to do.

Even if we assume an area is blighted (probably a good assumption for the Flats) that does not mean the government can grab the land for 1/4 or 1/3 its real price. Saying that "appraisers do tend to appraise low" is quite an understatement. It is well known that government appraisals come in far lower than market value. That is why the legislature is currently considering adding penalties if the final sale price (determined by a jury) is significantly higher than the government’s initial offer.

How do you think juries decide the price of the property? The government puts forth an appraiser who appraises low, and the propertyowner puts forth an appraiser who appraises high, and then the jury splits the difference.

Eminent domain should not be a windfall for property owners of slums. There is really no system to determine the price of taking property, other than by letting the market decide the price. Of course, in takings, the market has been skipped (since the sale is involuntary) so you use appraisers. I see nothing evil with that.

Juries don’t split the difference. The government grossly undervalues the property (in this case offering less than 1/4 the actual value of the buildings). The jury usually gives more than the higher appraisal (from the property owner’s appraiser) to punish the government for low-balling in the first place.

This is not about reasonable differences over value. It is about local officials trying to force sales, then intentionally shortchanging owners on the sale price. It is also about wasting the courts’ time with lawsuits when a fair offer would usually mean a sale rather than litigation. It is a systemic pattern of abuse that the legislature is now working to curb.

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