Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Residents Worry About Eminent Domain

The people of Murphysboro, Illinois are worried about the impacts of the Supreme Court’s recent eminent domain decision even though it looks like a local proposed Wal-Mart supercenter will not need it. The fear in this case, as resident Chris Mueller explains, is about the aftermath:

Mueller lives on Lake Road in Jackson County, not far from the site where the new Wal-Mart Supercenter is set to move in. While eminent domain won't come into play with the construction of the store, it is the aftermath that concerns him.

With the store, he said, will surely come increased traffic and the need to widen Country Club Road. And the way eminent domain works, the government will have an easy time taking the private property with compensation in order to widen the road.

"I feel very confident that eminent domain will affect my neighborhood," Mueller said.
Not only do people have to worry about big boxes directly taking their property but the improvements needed to accomodate them may result in the invoking of eminent domain as well.

An associate professor interviewed for the article mentions that the State Supreme Court has been more respectful of private property but that is hasn’t yet defined exactly what constitutes “public purpose” vis-à-vis economic development:

"I think that the Illinois Supreme Court has shown greater concern for private property rights," she said. "Does that mean your property can never be taken for economic development? No. We don't know the exact boundaries of what it could be."