Saturday, June 25, 2005

More Trouble in Texas

The Kelo decision has emboldened developers and their political buddies. Like this, in Freeport, Texas (watch the video):

You dreamed of the day you would own it. You saved money to buy it and hoped to live in it for years. So what would you do if the city bulldozed your home in the name of economic development? It can.
The city wants to use eminent domain to take 300 feet of Western Seafood's property for private economic development.

The United States Supreme Court ruled Thursday local governments may take homes and businesses, even against the owner's will, to build shopping mall or hotels.

It's a landmark decision with huge implications. It's being closely watched in Freeport where there is a power struggle over property.

For more than half a century, shrimp boats have docked outside Western Seafood in Freeport. It is one of the few businesses along the Brazos River -- at least for now.

"When people hear about eminent domain, they usually think about roads and bridges and tunnels being built," said Wright Gore, business owner. "But in this case, this is purely for taking from one private property owner and giving to another. And in this case it's our next door neighbor."

Gore is trying to save his grandfather's business. The city wants to use eminent domain to take 300 feet of Western Seafood's property and let developers who own the adjacent land build a marina, restaurants and a hotel along the waterfront.

"This is to take an area that is very much underutilized and to utilize it to the fullest extent to move this city forward," said Mayor Jim Phillips, Freeport.

New businesses would generate new revenue for the city.

Freeport said it now gets about $37,000 in property taxes from the area. The city estimates that after the area is redeveloped, taxes would bring in $400,000 a year to Freeport.
It looks like people are trying to do something about it.