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Eminent domain in Lakewood, Ohio

If this story catches your attention, you should read about the Poletown case in Detroit. You can go to www.detnews.com/history/poletown/poletown.htm[/COLOR]. Or you can read Poletown Neighborhood Council v. City of Detroit at www.law.berkeley.edu/faculty/rubinfeldd/LS145/poletown.html.. You might want to pay particular attention to the dissenting opinion.


Cyburbian Emeritus
The detroit case is great. I've heard of it before.

What is the Lakewood case you speak of? I dont see it in your thread. Lakewood condemnation? Like Ohio needs another gay bathhouse. LOL


A Planning Legend in the Making

Lakewood is an inner-ring suburb of Cleveland that, like the rest of the region, is hopelessly losing population (especially its younger workers) and tax base. The West End project is seen by many, including some faculty from the Levin College, as a hope to stem the tide; but its construction requires the demolition of many homes. In my opinion, this should be one of the clearer cases where eminent domain is necessary. The residents were offered 140% of the market value of their homes. The issue election for the project ended in a slim defeat of 39 votes.

The defeat of the outgoing mayor in the same election was probably less of a result of her advocacy for the project than her bungling of a TV interview (with 60 Minutes' Mike Wallace, no less; guess what side he took?). When he confronted her with the fact that her house would be considered blighted according to the same standards as those who would lose their homes, she could say nothing but look uncomfortable. I, and I'm sure others think, that the West End project ended with that silence.

The results of the ED and mayoral elections are covered in this article:


Recount on project likely; mayor loses


V. David Sartin
Plain Dealer Reporter

Lakewood - Plans to bulldoze a West End neighborhood for an upscale shopping and housing district were defeated yesterday.

By the slimmest of margins, 39 ballots, voters rescinded public financing for the $151 million project that was billed as the cure-all for the aging suburb.

But that tally will certainly be recounted and contested.

Voters were more decisive in giving the boot to two-term Mayor Madeline Cain, who made the West End project the focus of her last two years. She lost to Councilman Tom George, who also supported the project.

A defeat of the project could come as a blow to other Cleveland-area suburbs looking at eminent domain as a way to rebuild neighborhoods, create jobs and boost tax revenues.

Early yesterday evening, outgoing Euclid Mayor Paul Oyaski said he feared a loss for the Lakewood project would dampen enthusiasm by other suburbs for attempting innovative development proposals.

"When you are rebuilding a city, you've got to do things that are not customary," said Oyaski, who is being considered for Cuyahoga County's chief of economic development.

Voters also defeated a charter proposal that would require all future development to go to the ballot.

The West End project attracted national attention by proposing to use eminent domain for economic development purposes rather than traditional public projects such as schools and roads.

The Institute for Justice, a Washington, D.C., based libertarian law firm, made the project a centerpiece in a campaign against the use of eminent domain for private development.

The project also became the focus of network television broadcasts, including a "60 Minutes" segment in which Cain admitted having once described the West End as a "cute little neighborhood."

Jim Seleet, a leader among critics of the project, predicted a defeat of the plan.

"The whole thing is morally wrong," he said. "It's un-American, and the city of Lakewood has said, This is enough.' "

Brian Powers, chairman of a committee supporting the project, was not optimistic.

"We worked very hard against tough odds," he said. "Now we have got to figure out how to generate jobs and new tax revenues."

The proposal, initially from CenterPoint Properties of Cleveland, required the city to designate the West End as blighted because some houses lacked such amenities as attached garages and central air conditioning.

It met with sharp criticism from some residents of the neighborhood and others, who argued that the deal was financially risky. They succeeded in getting the two development-related issues on the ballot.