Saturday, August 28, 2010

Foundation seeks eminent domain to build trail

American Trails has a story posted on their trail news page concerning the use of eminent domain to build a bike/hike path through the Pocatello, Idaho valley.

When the plan was introduced by the Greenway Foundation in 1992, it called for a 23-mile contiguous path through the valley, but so far, only 6 miles have been completed.

So, since planners from the Greenway Foundation haven't been able to convince local property owners to give up their land for the project, they are now going to resort to the courts to solve their problems. In early and mid-September, the Pocatello city council will hold hearings to allow the city to seek the right to exercise eminent domain in order to secure the necessary easements to complete the Greenway trail system. In all, the Greenway Foundation is looking to acquire 27 individual parcels of land to complete the ribbon of roadway nestled alongside the Portneuf River.

Eminent domain has been used throughout history to build railways, roads, airports, national parks and even private developments such as shopping malls.

The Takings Clause in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1791 states; "...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation".

As a hiker and cyclist I would definitely enjoy and benefit from a trail like this. But as an American I am appalled by it. To force private property owners to sell or give right-of-way use of their lands for a project such as this is completely immoral. In a word, it's called theft. Individual rights and private property ownership is the backbone of our system. If one government can steal private property under the guise of "public use" in the case of a bike trail, what's to stop other local governments from stealing your property to build a trail, or any other project deemed as "public use"?

What's your opinion?



Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with you.This is no different that private land being confiscated for a mall.

nelson.arnold said...

This is a sad outcome from the supreme court decision a few years ago that stated that any corporation who could deliver a higher tax rate could use eminent domain to seize the land of the owner who may be using the land for their own, less profitable(to the government) purposes. Missouri and Kansas both immediately passed state laws to declare eminent domain seizures to be illegal for things like that. You may want to speak to your local politicians and see if you can get the same thing passed.

It would be really nice to see an amendment passed at the federal level to over-rule the supreme court decision, but with the gridlock we've got over completely nonexistant bullshit issues today I don't think we can expect to see much happen at that level.

nelson.arnold said...

I'm going to post a small second comment, because I failed to subscribe to comments the first time. So if you respond, I'll get mailed for it. Sorry to double post.

Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

Nelson - thanks for your comments. I do remember that case. If I recall correctly, one of Supremes (can't remember which one) who voted in favor of that outcome, was threatened by some local citizens in NH with declaring his house as a historical site - thus forcing him out!

Never heard what became of that though....