Headline: Poletown seizures are ruled unlawful
Reversing more than two decades of land-use law, the Michigan Supreme Court late Friday overturned its own landmark 1981 Poletown decision and sharply restricted governments such as Detroit and Wayne County from seizing private land to give to other private users.
The unanimous decision is a decisive victory for property owners who object to the government seizing their land, only to give it to another private owner to build stadiums, theaters, factories, housing subdivisions and other economic development projects the government deems worthwhile.
Detroit and other municipalities have used the Poletown standard for years to justify land seizures as a way to revitalize.
In the decision, the court rejected Wayne County’s attempt to seize private land south of Metro Airport for its proposed Pinnacle Aeropark high-technology park. The Pinnacle project, announced in 1999, is geared to making Wayne County a hub of international high-tech development linked to the airport.
This is a big win in the fight against eminent domain abuse (for more background, see the Institute for Justice and Dana Berliner’s excellent report, Public Power, Private Gain; CBS; and the Castle Coalition).
I have a feeling that the New York Times, which has benefited from exactly this kind of legalized theft in the name of reducing “blight,” will not be putting this story on the front page.