« Come and take them. | Main | Hollywood, WIPO, MPAA, RIAA and the other Rapscallions and Scallywags »

June 30, 2005

Ed Hathcock schools Romulus in Eminent Domain

Michigan is the poster child for the decaying Midwest Rust Belt of the post-industrial revolution. A noir state, punctuated by urban blight and genetic refuse, the detritus of the waves of people that fled the state when the Big 3 collapsed, leaving tens of thousands of vacant houses in their wake. With no buyers, entire subdivisions were left to atrophy and revert to native grasslands. Pheasant and deer took over the neighborhoods and the criminals took over the city. At night, in Detroit, even the police are afraid to stop at the red lights.

Romulus is a Wayne County city perched on the edge of Detroit. Most people know Romulus as the home of the Detroit/Wayne County Airport(DTW). But to me, Romulus is more than that. In a state widely panned as a modern dystopia, Romulus stands apart as a crime-infested chanchre; a criminal panacea.

In 1995, two IRS agents got into a fatal shoot-out with each other in Romulus. The same year, a customer killed an employee at the Rally's drivethrough in Romulus because she put pickles on his hamburger. It's a tough city.


So, when I heard that the town of Romulus set their sites on obtaining land for an office park, it set off a lot of alarms in my mind. Office park? Like - who in God's name would want to open a business in Romulus? The entire town should be raised and it's inhabitants should be euthanized. But, short of that, I would be supremely suspect of their true motives behind the development project.

At first, Romulus claimed they needed land for a runway extension. Later, they said it was for "noise mitigation", but, in the end, they wanted to allow a private developer to build an "office park" on 100 acres of land owned by 8 people, including one Ed Hathcock.

When Ed Hathcock found himself square in their sights, Wayne County offered him far less than what he felt his cabinet making business was worth, and then attempted to sieze it under eminent domain. Hathcock fought them in court for three years, until the Michigan State Supreme Court agreed with him in the landmark Wayne County vs. Hathway ruling handed down at 9:30 p.m. on July 30th, 2004. The Michigan State Supremem Court that it's unconstitutional under Michigan law for the government to seize property for economic development projects, and overturned a previous 1981 ruling where the Poletown subdivision of Hamtramck was raised to make way for a new GM plant. Over a thousand houses, hundreds of businesses, and six churches, and a hospital. All gone for a failed commercial venture.

But in Hathcock, the Court called Poletown a “radical departure from fundamental constitutional principles.? “We overrule Poletown,? the Court wrote, “in order to vindicate our constitution, protect the people’s property rights and preserve the legitimacy of the judicial branch as the expositor, not creator, of fundamental law.?

Posted by Peenie Wallie on June 30, 2005 at 1:59 AM

Comments

What happens when this idea gets extended to other types of property? I can just hear the thoughts in politicians minds:

"Let's see, the city will gain tax revenue for every new car sold by a dealership within city limits. Therefore, we're going to sieze every car in town that's five+ years old for public use. We'll give residents low blue book value then sell them at auction for more."

Posted by: Kurt Heston on July 3, 2005 at 10:46 AM

Post a comment




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)


NOTICE: IT WILL TAKE APPROX 1-2 MINS FOR YOUR COMMENT TO POST SUCCESSFULLY. YOU WILL HAVE TO REFRESH YOUR BROWSER. PLEASE DO NOT DOUBLE POST COMMENTS OR I WILL KILL YOU.