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Monday, June 05, 2006

New Brighton Steals Another Parcel

New Brighton doesn't get it. It's wrong to steal.

More specifically, Mayor Steve Larson and council members Annie Hoffman and Mary Burg don't get it. On May 23rd, each voted to exercise Eminent Domain to take the land from under the New Brighton Post Office. Council members Sharon Doffing and Gina Bauman voted against the theft.

The land is currently owned by Dr. Alvin Zelickson and the estate of Andrew Froehlich. New Brighton has been negotiating price with the owners, but the two parties are reportedly $400,000 apart. Rather than offer the additional $400,000, the city chose Theft by Eminent Domain.

This is one of the key problems with Eminent Domain. When a city doesn't want to pay the price, all they need to do invoke Eminent Domain. It gets worse when the city plans to sell the land to a private developer. When a private developer doesn't want to pay the price, all they need to do is garner support of three members of the city council.

Speaking of development in the Northwest Quadrant, council member Mary Burg said “we have a responsibility to get the project finished, and in good faith we have negotiated.” But, how can you negotiate “in good faith” while threatening condemnation by Eminent Domain? This sounds more like coercion.

Moreover, what happen to the city's responsibility to protect the property of it's citizens from theft? The city's obligation to its citizens and their property rights should supersede any obligation made to a private land developer.

Now consider that no developer has been selected for this land. As council member Doffing asked “what's the rush?

The rush is the new law that Governor Pawlenty singed that limits use of Eminent Domain. It is now illegal for cities to take land from one private owner for the benefit of another. But, the law grandfathers in existing projects until 2008.

New Brighton has apparently entered the business of land speculation. There is no developer ready to develop the land under the Post Office, but the city will take it anyway. Clearly they plan to offer the land to a developer in the future. But, New Brighton is refusing to allow the current owners to negotiate directly with the new owner (whoever that might be) for a fair market price.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This May 16th council meeting can be viewed under New Brighton city council Web streaming www.ctv15.org. Here is where you can hear the city council and staff are condemning property owned by the estate of Dr. Zelickson's business partner who died last Winter. During questioning, staff was unable to confirm how many heirs also were in ownership of this property. City staff also denied any documentation from Dr. Zelickson to the city that he could legally negotiate on behalf of his deceased partner's estate. How they condemn a property when not certain who owns it?

6/06/2006 11:35 PM  

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