Sunday, May 11, 2008

Allen Gill and Eminent Domain

Back in 2004, Allen Gill, one of C'dale's candidates for city manager and city manger for Pittsburg KS, worked to use eminent domain to take property from one developer turned it over to another developer who in turn leased it to Home Depot. The Supreme Court affirmed such a taking was a legal use of eminent domain in 2005. You can read an article about the Pittsburg taking here. Here are some details from the piece:

Mr. Trent, the Kansan, had a special hardship fighting his case: When it was filed, he was serving as a U.S. ambassador with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. He says the case began after he rejected a "low-ball" offer from Home Depot's developer, then flew to Baghdad. His lawyer tried to fend off the taking, but a state court in Pittsburg let it go forward this spring. Mr. Trent is challenging the compensation. That case is pending.

Allen Gill, Pittsburg's city manager, says Mr. Trent was well compensated, receiving more than $1 million for his property -- a large sum for rural Kansas. He also says Mr. Trent and another owner's opposition blocked a badly needed project that has already sparked other development in town.

"Does the greater good outweigh the inconvenience to the two?" Mr. Gill asks.

In a statement, Atlanta-based Home Depot said the project would bring "good paying jobs and economic development," adding that "the City of Pittsburg identified this site as an area in need of redevelopment, and the Home Depot was receptive to working with the developer who was negotiating with the city."

In 2006, the Kansas legislature enacted a law putting severe restrictions on the use of eminent domain to transfer property to a private developer, as did 26 other states..

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Mr. Trent is smart to hold out for an even greater windfall. He is not motivated by right or wrong. He is motivated by the same thing that greases everybody's wheel: money.

I don't blame him a bit for trying to get as much as he can.
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