THE BEST KELO CASE YET….For those of you who felt that I was insufficiently outraged over the Kelo eminent domain decision, I’ve got just the story for you. This isn’t about a city condemning blighted land for redevelopment. It’s not even about a city condemning good land for redevelopment. It’s about a city condemning good land for a project that’s almost identical to the project the land’s current owner wants to put up himself. The city is Union Township in New Jersey and the owner is Carol Segal:
On May 24, the five-member township committee voted unanimously to authorize the municipality to seize Segal’s land through eminent domain and name its own developer.
“They want to steal my land,” Segal said. “What right do they have when I intend to do the exact same thing they want to do with my property?”
…. Segal…signed a contract last week to sell his property to Centex Homes for about $13 million, contingent upon local approval. Centex, a nationally known developer with projects in Middlesex, Morris and Monmouth counties, would then build 100 townhouses on Segal’s property….
Florio and Capodice [the mayor and deputy mayor] said they preferred AMJM because it is a local company.
“I’ve never heard of Centex,” Capodice said. “They’re not Union County people.”
It’s worth noting that the Star-Ledger story quoted above strongly implies that there’s some fairly sleazy political corruption involved in all this, and it’s possible that this might be a bigger factor than the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kelo. Hey, this is Jersey we’re talking about.
Still, it smells pretty bad, and it couldn’t have happened if Kelo had gone the other way. Libertarians should feel free to feel vindicated.