Eminent Domain Regulation Has Both Developers and Property Owners HeatedBy Daniel Cherry | Published 04 Aug 2011 07:06pm |
The Mississippi Supreme Court is deciding whether a proposed amendment to the state constitution will be allowed on November's statewide ballot. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how an effort to restrict eminent domain could affect economic development in Mississippi.
The ballot initiative would give voters the chance prohibit municipalities from taking their private property for economic development purposes. Stephanie Parker Weaver adamently opposes eminent domain. She says property owners need more laws to protect their rights.
"The right to be free from governmental interference. Because you have wealth, access to power, and influence, it's something that we have to protect on behalf of the average citizen who does not have the same method and access to power."
Weaver fought feverishly with The Southern Christian Leadership Conference to protect property owners from eminent domain when Nissan moved into Canton. However Tom Troxler the Executive Director of the Rankin First Economic Development Authority says developers need some way to advance job growth.
"I would like to see some exception in the eminent domain for extremely large projects. What that number is, I don't know, but it would have to be along the lines of a Nissan or Toyota."
The amendment would prevent a city from taking a person's property and giving it to a private company or another person for 10 years. Troxler says if it passes many future developments wouldn't get off the ground.
"That's not how economic development works. We don't get a call from a consultant and say, 'We've got this company. They're looking for 2,000 acres of land. They're going to employ 3,000 people, and we're going to do this in 10 years.' It doesn't work that way."
If the ballot initiative passes the court and is voted in, a municipality would still be able to take property for infrastructure projects, utilities, or is the property is deemed a public nuisance.
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