Condemnation ruling will have little impact locally
EAGLE COUNTY ” Last week’s Supreme Court ruling that allows cities to condemn private property to boost their economy will have little impact here, local attorneys said.
Under Colorado law, cities cannot condemn property for redevelopment except in cases of economic blight, said John Dunn, a local attorney.
Vail did just that a few years ago to pave the way for the Lionshead redevelopment project that is going on right now. In that case, the property owners requested town officials declare the neighborhood economically blighted, said Matt Mire, Vail’s town attorney.
The ruling will have more impact in urban areas, he said.
“I don’t think it has much relevance for the town and our practices,” Mire said. “I mean the town of Vail is just not out there condemning private property to put in malls.”
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The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last week that local governments may seize people’s homes and businesses against their will for private development. As a result, cities now have more power to condemn residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes to generate tax revenue.
Writing for the court, Justice John Paul Stevens said local officials, not federal judges, know best when deciding whether a development project will benefit the community. States are within their rights to pass additional laws restricting condemnations if residents are overly burdened, he said.
“It is not for the courts to oversee the choice of the boundary line nor to sit in review on the size of a particular project area,” he said.
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who has been a key swing vote on many cases before the court, issued a stinging dissent. She argued cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families ” even if they are provided compensation ” simply to accommodate wealthy developers.
Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press contributed to this report.