Yesterday, upon hearing that our local city council was about to use eminent domain to condemn private property for the sake of a greenway, I emailed each council member to implore them against the action. This morning's newspaper informs me that they went ahead with the eminent domain grab and took swaths of land for their beloved greenway. Six council members, three for the grab, three against, the mayor broke the tie and took the land.
The newspaper article says this: "Plans are to hook the greenway into the Catawba Lands Conservancy’s conceptual Carolina Thread Trail, a 15-county network of walking and biking paths in the Charlotte region. Arthurs (the attorney for the property owners) pointed out that past discussions of building that network have referenced respecting landowners by building around them if they don’t wish to participate.
But Smith, the city attorney, pointed to the conservancy’s mission statement, which states "any decision to exercise eminent domain is at the discretion of the governing body" where the land lies."
In other words, when the greenway was proposed, the council pushed the greenway project by saying they would not use eminent domain and would respect private ownership. Lo and behold, the greenway conservancy group, whoever that is, has a mission statement to the contrary. The lessons? Be careful with whom you jump into bed and don't listen to liars in powerful positions.
The attorney for the property owners said, "My clients will still pay taxes on this property and will be liable if someone gets hurt," he said. "There’s no way to protect them from that with just a simple condemnation."
So the property owners now own a piece of condemned land on which they pay taxes and property insurance yet they have no use of and no control over? How does that work? I am also wondering what just happened to the property values should the owners decide they want to sell their land. How does the City condemn land, take it, and then make those who just lost their property pay taxes on it and cause them liability?
You might be sitting there thinking, "Big deal." You might be thinking greenways are so cool. Greenways are for hiking, biking, and commiserating with nature. You might be thinking Americans are so fat, we need to take away land from private ownership so we have places to run off the extra flab. "It's for the public good, " you say. Say what?
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says this:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
To get around this, our local council offered some pittance to the property owners who refused the offer, saying they wanted their land to remain as a buffer to their property and did not want any pedestrian traffic or a greenway on their land. The council, in effect. has come back to say, "up yours." "We'll do what we want and you can go fly a kite." Now they have taken the land without just compensation and waltz off to congratulate themselves on the coup.
The greenway organizations say they have no power to use eminent domain to take the land. Instead, they are relying on your local government officials to use eminent domain, and then they pressure the local governments to do just that. (Take names and vote those s.o.b.s out of your local government)
Mind you, the owners of this land were not planning some dastardly development on the property. They were not planning high density destruction of the area. In fact, they only wanted to keep the land they owned for the purpose of owning it and using it as a buffer of protection for the rest of their property. And, after all, they are paying the taxes and insurance on that land.
Now you might be saying, "Well, this is just some little town in North Carolina and has no effect on the big picture of the world." If that's what you are thinking, you don't know the extent and reach of "lands conservancy" groups who have descended on every square inch of the country like a plague of locusts. Just four areas below:
Excerpt: "When property is appropriated for “public use” (whether for public access or buffer zones to preserve views), landowners are forced to sell their land to the government at “fair market value,” not for a highway or a utility, but for a hiking trail. In cases where a property owner is allowed to stay, the government can force public access via a public right-of-way easement or impose regulatory sanctions to eliminate uses seen as “incompatible” with scenic resources."
You need to also recognize that the land the greenway grabbers are after is usually the land along waterways and the most scenic views, so if you bought that property just for those reasons, you will now be forced out of your ownership in order to placate thieves who want what you bought and paid for. Governments at local levels are part of the grander scheme of a national land grab under the guise of "greenways, land conservancies, smart growth, and wildlands projects." It has become a national moral tragedy, giving power brokers in government the license to steal property from Americans who purchased that land with their own blood, sweat and tears.
Worse than just the eminent domain abuse, is also the use of our tax dollars to provide grants to the greenway projects, land conservancies, smart growth initiatives, and wildlands projects. Simply stated, they are using our own money to support stealing private property from the unlucky souls who get in their way. Using tax dollars to undermine private property rights guaranteed in the Constitution has to be one of the Progressives most treasured delights. ( I didn't want to use the other crass phrase describing that.)
'Feel good' rhetoric about how we need to save green space and make everybody healthy, save the planet, etc. is over-riding common sense and the very foundation of our country. If we would just call the greenways what they are, i.e. theft, then maybe people would get the message.
As John Adams so wisely stated:
"If people can't feel secure in perhaps their most significant investment in life — a cabin, a farm, a purchase that is part of their dream — if they can't participate and have due process before governmental agencies, if they cannot feel secure in that, then we do not have liberty."
Will people just throw away everything for the short term gratification of giving in to peer pressure and hype? Don't answer that....I know the answer and I don't like the answer. Where are the grownups?