Homeowners win eminent domain fight in Norwood - In a unanimous decision, the seven justices of the state's highest court ruled the city of Norwood didn't have the right to take two houses in its Edwards Road corridor to make way for a high-end commercial and residential development.
...use of the term "deteriorating area" as a standard for determining whether private property is subject to appropriation, is unconstitutional because it inherently incorporates speculation as to the future condition of a property.
(Note: This is GREAT NEWS!)
July 26, 2006
By Kevin Kemper
Columbus, Ohio - Property owners in southwest Ohio won a major victory Wednesday, when the Ohio Supreme Court overruled an appellate court and declared that a portion of the state's eminent domain statute is unconstitutional.
In a unanimous decision, the seven justices of the state's highest court ruled the city of Norwood didn't have the right to take two houses in its Edwards Road corridor to make way for a high-end commercial and residential development.
The decision overturned the 1st District Court of Appeals ruling that granted the suburban Cincinnati city the right to take the residence of Carl and Joy Gamble and the home of Joseph Horney and his wife Carol Gooch.
Norwood and developer Rookwood Partners Ltd. have plans to redevelop the 10-acre Edwards Road corridor into an apartment, retail and office complex.
Rookwood Partners arranged sale agreements with 66 of 71 property owners. As part of the development, two city-owned parking garages were planned. The rest of the development would have been privately owned and was intended to create jobs and increase local tax revenue.
Three of the five remaining owners settled their fight or were paid an amount determined by a Hamilton County jury. The Gambles and Horney were the holdouts.
Justice Maureen O'Connor wrote in the opinion that the court's decision balances "two competing interests of great import in American democracy: the individual's rights in the possession and security of property, and the sovereign's power to the private property for the benefit of the community."
The high court found that while economic factors may be considered when determining whether private property can be appropriate, those factors alone don't justify the taking of property.
The court also ruled that use of the term "deteriorating area" as a standard for determining whether private property is subject to appropriation, is unconstitutional because it inherently incorporates speculation as to the future condition of a property.
Norwood had hired a consultant that determined the Edwards Road corridor was deteriorating because of its growing isolation from residential areas, its traffic dangers and susceptibility to "piecemeal" conversion from residential to commercial uses.
The Supreme Court also found a section of Ohio's eminent domain law that prohibits a court from enjoining the taking of property after compensation has been deposited with the court but prior to appellate review, is also unconstitutional because it violates the separation of powers doctrine.
Reaction to the decision from around the country was swift.
The Washington D.C.-based National Federation of Independent Businesses praised the ruling.
"We are thrilled with the court's decision," said Karen Harned, executive director of the group's Legal Foundation. "The takings clause in the Ohio constitution was never intended to allow governments to take properties from private owners just to turn and sell these properties to other private entities."
Copyright 2006, BizJournals.com.
Homeowners win eminent domain fight in Norwood
Columbus Business First, OH -
In a unanimous decision, the seven justices of the state's highest court ruled the city of Norwood didn't have the right to take two houses in its Edwards Road ...
High court rules against Norwood home-taking
Ohio Court Says City Can't Take Property
Ohio Supreme Court sides with homeowners in eminent domain case
Additional pertinent reading:
Quotes on Supreme Court's Norwood ruling
July 26, 2006
"For the individual property owner, the appropriation is not simply the seizure of a house. It is the taking of a home - the place where ancestors toiled, where families were raised, where memories were made," Justice Maureen O'Connor, for the court.
"What is clear is that Norwood's timing couldn't have been worse in terms of getting caught up in a national political firestorm after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Kelo case," Tim Burke, special counsel, city of Norwood.
"I believed that we did that right thing then, I believe we did the right thing now. Apparently, seven justices don't agree." Norwood Mayor Tom Williams.
"This was a perfect example of what is going on all over the country: a perfectly nice, working class neighborhood with no tax delinquencies, no falling down buildings, a nice neighborhood of homes and businesses, that a developer thought could be much more profitable as an upscale shopping and high-end housing center," Dana Berliner, attorney for plaintiffs.