David Beats Goliath: Eminent Domain Land Grab Squashed!

guest blog by Deborah Goonan

Here’s more positive news for homeowners, just in time for the holiday season.

Residents of homes in Pleasant Ridge, Charlestown, Indiana, have good reason to celebrate this year. They fought City Hall, and won! A few months ago I blogged about the Mayor of Charlestown declaring the modest neighborhood of 345 homes “blighted” and planning to sell the land to a private developer. That would have meant all the existing homes would be razed to make way for new development of multifamily homes.

Institute for Justice has been working with citizens in a grass roots campaign to defeat the planned sale. It turns out that Indiana was one state that amended its eminent domain laws in 2006, in response to the well-known Kelo v. City of New London “Little Pink House” legal case. Indiana’s law now states that land cannot be taken and handed over to a private developer.

What do we take away from this story, combined with the recent news of the NJ’s Supreme Court’s decision to uphold free speech in common interest communities – a huge victory for HOA homeowners?

Grass roots pressure works, when properly organized. Our State Constitutions matter! States can strengthen their own Constitutional laws to prevent Developers and Real Estate corporate interests from exploiting loopholes and running roughshod over the interests of Ordinary Citizens. In both of these cases, it was legal advocacy – not political advocacy – that resulted in justice being served.

Local politicians in Charlestown fell in line when public pressure reached critical mass, with the help and guidance of advocacy group IJ, possessing legal clout and credibility to get the job done.

A tenacious retired prosecutor was determined to defend his rights. The ACLU in New Jersey stepped up to the plate, and submitted an Amicus Brief that blew CAI’s legal arguments out of the water.

Despite all of the political polarity we have in our country these days, note that positive changes are happening with bipartisan advocacy efforts – the “Conservative” Institute for Justice, and the “Liberal” ACLU.

When concerned Americans unite against injustice, in ways that are constructive, good things happen!

What are your thoughts?

(link to IJ news release: Largest Eminent Domain Land Grab Defeated

 

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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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