Eminent Domain Put To Good Use

Eminent Domain Put To Good Use

A community in Hercules California uses eminent domain to keep Wal Mart Stores, Inc. out of their quaint suburb.  The residents of Hercules were worried that the big-box retailer would drive local retailers out of business, create traffic and ruin the charming atmosphere of their small town.

The 17 acres where Wal Mart was intending to build a shopping complex was seized by the City.  Hercules’ City Council voted unanimously to evoke eminent domain.   This is just one of many anti-Wal Mart campaigns across the country.  Using eminent domain to keep Wal Mart out seems to be the new tactic used by cities.

When Wal Mart learned that the small city of 24,000 was opposed to their building plans they redesigned it to a scaled-down version that included a pedestrian plaza, two outdoor-eating areas and other small shops.  But the citizens of Hercules still said no and that’s when they decided to take action.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that such seizures are allowable if the construction raises the tax base and benefits the entire community.  The town agreed that the land would be better suited for upscale stores that attract affluent shoppers and give the suburb a classy touch. City officials countered that buying the land was acceptable to ensure it was developed to the community’s liking and fit in with overall plans for the city.

The North Carolina legislature has modified the State’s condemnation laws after the U.S. Supreme Court decision.  The action taken by the city of Hercules would not be allowed in North Carolina.