Getting Rid of Blight

Posted on March 14, 2005
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In an Arizona Republic article, reporter Justin Juozapavicius explains how the Mormon Church and Dennis Barney, a private developer, are slowing turning around a drug-infested Mesa neighborhood.

Proponents of eminent domain have long argued that the power to seize private land is necessary in order to rid cities of blight. But the Founders of the nation designed eminent domain to allow the government to build roads, bridges, and other improvements for "public use."

As Mr. Barney is demonstrating, revitalization of blighted areas need not require the government to forcibly seize and evict private property owners. Such improvements can be made voluntarily, as developers negotiate with landowners to purchase and redevelop property.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision this June in the case of Kelo v. City of New London, which, with any luck, will clarify and constrain local governments' authority to use eminent domain as a tool to help developers.

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