County approves eminent domain as last resort

August 31, 2005|by TARA REILLY

After removing some words thought to be too harsh, the Washington County Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday stating the county would acquire private property through eminent domain only as a last resort.

County Commissioner John C. Munson asked for the resolution in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld a government's right to take private property for economic development purposes.

The resolution states that the Supreme Court upheld "what the majority maintained is local government's ability to take private property for a vaguely defined 'public good' such as economic development, or increased tax revenues to the local government itself."


"The Supreme Court decision put at risk the very right of private individuals to be free from government interference in their right to keep and enjoy their private property," the resolution states.

"I don't think they know what reality is," Munson said of the Supreme Court.

Using eminent domain as anything other than a last resort would be an assault on basic foundations of liberty and a threat to the rights of private property ownership, the resolution states.

The resolution originally stated that using eminent domain means other than a last resort are capricious and willful attacks by government.

The commissioners removed the words "capricious" and "willful attacks" after Commissioner James F. Kercheval said they were too harsh.

"I don't see it as our place to be yelling at the Supreme Court," Kercheval said.

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