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?