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Archive for Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Property rights bill gets initial OK

Act would limit government power to take land for economic uses

March 21, 2006

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The Kansas Senate on Monday gave preliminary approval to legislation limiting governmental power to take away private property for purposes of economic development.

It also advanced a bill that would benefit a Lawrence development company in a condemnation case.

Both measures were given first-round approval on a voice vote and will face a final vote today.

Governments traditionally have used the power of eminent domain to take private property, after compensating the property owner. They would then use that property for public purposes, such as roads or utility lines.

But in recent years, eminent domain increasingly has been used for economic purposes, when the government condemns the property and then turns it over to private developers to build businesses or entertainment districts. An example of this was development of the Kansas Speedway in Wyandotte County.

"It's a fundamental issue, whether or not government can take one person's property and give it to someone else," said Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler. "The use of eminent domain for that purpose I never thought was part of the American dream."

The bill brought to the Senate would have limited local governments from taking private property by eminent domain for the purpose of transferring that property to a private company for economic development.

Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, outlines a bill about eminent domain. Vratil spoke Monday at the Statehouse, where senators gave initial approval to a bill that would local governments' ability to force someone to sell their property so it could be used for economic development.

Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, outlines a bill about eminent domain. Vratil spoke Monday at the Statehouse, where senators gave initial approval to a bill that would local governments' ability to force someone to sell their property so it could be used for economic development.

Under the bill, local governments could use eminent domain for economic development reasons only if it resulted in significant job growth, had a capital investment of 1 percent of the city's total assessed value of property or $10 million, and gained a two-thirds vote of the local governing body.

"This is a very delicate balance between the interested parties," said Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood.

But an amendment by Sen. Pat Apple, R-Louisburg, was approved that essentially would prohibit local governments from condemning property for economic development projects unless they had approval from the Legislature.

"This protects private property owners from the threat or the use of eminent domain," Apple said.

Under the amendment, "cities and counties cannot take property strictly on the basis of economic development," he said.

The use of eminent domain to make way for the Kansas Speedway remains a sore spot for many Wyandotte County residents, said Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, Kan.

"The people of Wyandotte County did not want to see their neighbors thrown off their property for the benefit of outsiders," he said.

The bill affecting a Lawrence case was advanced without question or debate.

The legislation essentially would overturn a Kansas Supreme Court decision from December that said to appeal an appraiser's award in a condemnation case, a new docket fee must be paid within 30 days.

Attorneys for Westgate LC said without the bill, a judgment for several hundred thousand dollars could be in jeopardy. Vratil said it was never the intent of the Legislature to require a new docket fee.

Comments

speedykitty 8 years, 6 months ago

Good for the Kansas Senate!

If you doubt this basic individual right to own property is under attack, spend some time on castlecoalition.org> and www.sunsethillslandgrab.org> which outlines the 2005 failed antics of Novus Development in this St. Louis area town of Sunset Hills, aided with an intended infusion of $42 million in TIF funds. It's an eyeopener.

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Sigmund 8 years, 6 months ago

This bill is important but a farse unless it is ammended to REMOVE the exception for condemnations for private use which result in significant job growth, with capital investment of 1 percent of assessed value, and two-thirds vote of the local governing body. Even Sen Apple's ammendment, which to be fair is much better, requiring the Legistlature to approve all condemnations for economic purposes does not go far enough for my tastes.

Hopefully the US Congress will produce a bill that will protect home owners from land grabbing local developers with City Commissioners in their pockects, from essentially stealing peoples properties.

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Jamesaust 8 years, 6 months ago

The "Apple" amendment is most likely an recipie for ineffectiveness (which might be the reason its being offered).

Virtually any proposed project will be of no direct benefit to 90% or more of Kansans. As such, legislators from those other parts of the state will be more motivated by concerns having nothing to do with the projects.

Soon some proposal will be denied by the Legislature, say a Sedgwick Co. proposal denied with Johnson Co. votes being the margin of denial, and then a JoCo project will be voted against by Wichita-area legislators in retailiation. West will vote against East, and North against South. This new problem will then be resolved by backroom deals where votes are traded (for God knows what in return).

Local officials who are elected and represent the people who are both hurt and helped by such actions are the appropriate locus for this decisionmaking and weighing of the pros & cons.

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