New Ohio law puts brakes on eminent domain takings


COLUMBUS – Ohio lawmakers worked quickly to temporarily halt takings of nonblighted property in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Gov. Bob Taft signed Senate Bill 167 into law Nov. 16, imposing a 14-month moratorium on eminent domain proceedings by local governments involving nonblighted properties.
The moratorium, which takes effect immediately, does not cover the use of eminent domain for roads, utilities, or government buildings.
Task force to study. The moratorium, in place until Dec. 31, 2006, halts the use of eminent domain to take, without the owner’s consent, nonblighted private property for economic development.
The law also creates a task force to study eminent domain use as it pertains to this summer’s Supreme Court ruling in the case of Kelo v. New London. The group must recommend updates to state lawmakers by Aug. 1.
“Ohio property owners can rest assured that they are in no danger of losing their nonblighted property to economic development projects,” said bill sponsor Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chesterland, at the bill’s signing.
Personal experience. Nick Motz, a Cincinnati resident whose wife’s business in Norwood was taken so a developer could use the property for private development, also spoke during the signing.
Motz, a Hamilton County Farm Bureau member, said Cincinnati developer Jeffery Anderson paid for an “urban renewal study” that concluded the neighborhood had a good chance of deteriorating into a blighted area even though it had no current signs of deterioration or blight.
The city of Norwood then used Anderson’s study to initiate condemnation proceedings against property owners and gave the property to the developer, Motz said.
“We were forced out of our property. Within days our building was demolished,” he said.
“Through my three-year battle, I unfortunately found out that I am not alone. The abuse of eminent domain in this country is rampant.”
Across the board. According to Jack Fisher, executive vice president of the Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio law provides 72 agencies with the power of eminent domain.
Farm Bureau receives between 50 and 100 calls a year from members who say their property may be taken by eminent domain, he added.


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