Indiana Residents Fighting Eminent Domain for Private Development

guest blog by Deborah Goonan

I follow Institute for Justice on social media. See the link below for their recent press release about the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood of Charlestown, Indiana. This is yet another case where the city seeks to declare several city blocks “blighted” and to use state grant money to purchase 350+ homes for the paltry sum of $6000 each.

According to a June television report (link below), which includes interviews with Pleasant Ridge residents and Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall, early plans for development are to create a mixed use neighborhood consisting of duplexes, single family homes and affordable housing for seniors. In other words, probably another HOA, this one subsidized by tax dollars.

In June, Hall was quoted as saying that owners would not be “low-balled” on prices offered for their properties. At that time, Hall said owners would only be offered up to $15,000 from grant funds, and developers would have to contribute the rest toward market value. So the proposed offer price has already dropped by $9,000 in just 5 months, with no mention of Developer contribution.

The bottom line is that private developers want the land, so they can build new properties. The Mayor wants to collect higher tax revenues. Instead of dealing with individual properties that are in need of being condemned or demolished, the plan is to raze the entire neighborhood and displace hundreds of residents. Once again, the Supreme Court’s twisted definition of “public use” comes back to haunt American citizens. Fortunately, Indiana’s laws stipulate that eminent domain cannot be used for private development.

I find the following statement from the Mayor’s office particularly interesting,

“This area was declared blighted in 2002 in connection with a revitalization grant received then. The housing in this area was temporary housing bought by the army to house workers at the ammunition plant in 1940,” the mayor’s spokeswoman, Geneva Adams, said.  “They were not meant to be permanent housing. The decline of these structures is evident as you drive through the area.”

Has Ms. Adams taken a close look at the construction quality of many modern homes? I would be willing to bet that the majority of them will not stand the test of time as well as the Army’s temporary housing that is now 74 years old.

(link to Institute for Justice news release)

(WLKY-News video of Pleasant Ridge and Charlestown Mayor, June 2014)

(WDRB coverage from earlier this year)

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About

Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

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