Eminent-domain fight ends - But 'blighted' tag lingers on



(Note: "Blight" is like the word "is" -- it means whatever certain entities say it means. It is actually indefinable. For example: Blight Physical and economic conditions within an area that cause a reduction of or lack of proper utilization of that area. A blighted area is one that has deteriorated or has been arrested in its development by physical, economic, or social forces. http://www.mass.gov/envir/smart_growth_toolkit/pages/glossary.html "Blight" and other Language Deception words and phrases, is used to steal property rights.)


August 18, 2006


By Steve Kemme, Cincinnati Enquirer staff writer [email protected] or 513-936-3362

The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Norwood, Ohio - They stood in the shadows while the national spotlight shone on Norwood's eminent-domain case.

Their homes and businesses are in a kind of no-man's land.

They're just outside the borders of the proposed Rookwood Exchange office-retail-condo project.

But they're just inside the borders of the urban renewal district Norwood created three years ago in hopes of paving the way for the Rookwood project and other commercial development.

All the properties in the urban renewal plan -- including the 76 in the 11-acre Rookwood Exchange site -- were slapped with the "blighted" designation.

It's a label that lowers the properties' market values, makes them vulnerable to future eminent-domain actions and leaves owners in a perpetual state of uncertainty.

In its recent landmark decision, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the neighborhood that had existed on the site wasn't blighted.

The decision nullified Norwood's seizure of three properties whose owners fought to keep them and thwarted at least temporarily the Rookwood Exchange development.

But the other properties in the urban renewal district continue to bear the "blighted" tag.

The neighborhood that Dacey Avenue had been a part of is now an almost completely empty field surrounded by a chain-link fence.

The Rookwood Partners bought all the homes on the planned Rookwood Exchange site and demolished everything [except] the court-protected structures of the holdout property owners.

"I try to keep my house looking nice," said Pierce Foster, 62, a retired meat-cutter who has lived in his house on Dacey for 26 years. "It hurts you to know your street is considered blighted."

Foster and three others who own property just north of the proposed Rookwood Exchange filed a lawsuit three years ago asking Hamilton County Common Pleas Court to remove the blighted label from their properties.

The other blighted area outside the Rookwood site is on the west side of Interstate 71 between Duck Creek Road and Williams Avenue.

Scott Bullock, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, a civil-liberties law firm in Washington that represented the holdout owners for free in the Norwood case, said he plans to ask Judge Robert Ruehlman to lift the blight designation from the four properties at an August 28 court meeting.

But he may not have to do it.

Norwood Mayor Tom Williams says he will recommend that City Council repeal the Edwards Road corridor urban renewal plan at its next meeting on August 22.

That action would mean the properties would no longer be saddled with the blighted tag.

"If the blight designation is contrary to the Ohio Supreme Court ruling, why would we pay an attorney to do something we can do ourselves?" Williams said.

Foster, his wife, Bonnie, and ... other property owners said they're glad Williams isn't waiting for a court ruling.

"That would make me very happy if he does that," Bonnie Foster said. "It's been an emotional thing. We've just been caught up in everything and couldn't go in one direction or the other."


Copyright 2006, The Cincinnati Enquirer.