Joy and Carl Gamble say they just want to retire peacefully in the dream home where they’ve lived for more than 35 years. But the Cincinnati suburb of Norwood has other plans for the property.
Using its power of eminent domain, the city wants to take a neighborhood that it considers to be deteriorating and boost its fortunes by allowing a $125 million development of offices and shops.
Lawyers on both sides planned to make their case to the Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday in the first challenge of property rights laws to reach a state high court since the U.S. Supreme Court last summer allowed municipalities to seize homes for use by a private developer.
“It is our home, what’s ours is ours, and it should be that way,” Joy Gamble told a rally Wednesday morning before the hearing. “It was a home worth fighting for, and we do want it back.”
This is the most important state eminent domain case since the U.S Supreme Court last year upheld condemnations for private development in Kelo v. New London. The Ohio Supreme Court has declared that “the power of eminent domain may not be exercised merely or primarily to take private property for private purposes,” and it has never ruled on the condemnation of “deteriorating,” as opposed to “blighted,” property. A victory for the owners would provide further evidence that state courts are prepared to interpret state constitutions so as to curtail eminent domain abuse, meaning that new legislation is not the only solution to the land grabs encouraged by Kelo.
Vigilance on both fronts is needed. Keep on top of nationwide developments at The Castle Coalition.
Hat tip: Doug at Below the Beltway