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Land Seizures and Compensation


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16 replies to this topic

#1 of 17 OFFLINE   Scott Strang

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Posted December 28 2008 - 08:17 AM

Hello All I was reading the story about the Flight 93 memorial and the possible seizure of the land from the owner and I was unclear about something. If the land is seized from the person or company that currents owns it will they be given any kind of monetary compensation. I thought that seizing something meant confiscation and no compensation. But what I seem to be reading eludes to the owners of such seized land are being compensated. Can someone clear this up for me? With the cross section of people on this board I figured someone will know. Thanks

#2 of 17 OFFLINE   Quincy

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Posted December 28 2008 - 08:22 AM

They would probably take it under eminent domain and just pay the man what ever fair market value is on it.

#3 of 17 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted December 28 2008 - 08:58 AM

Now, in some cases the notion of what constitutes a "public use" gets contentious, but the United 93 memorial shouldn't be one of them.
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#4 of 17 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted December 28 2008 - 10:03 AM

It is a siezure, rather than a sale, because the people ceding the land don't have a choice in the matter. Yes, they are compensated, but they can't say "No" and they can't bargain for a better price. Regards, Joe

#5 of 17 OFFLINE   Clinton McClure

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Posted December 28 2008 - 10:04 AM

I'm guessing what Qunicy answered : They would probably take it under eminent domain and just pay the man what ever fair market value is on it. This happens quite often for prime real estate in large cities near big commercial districts where most homeowners sell and the remaining ones who refuse to sell are evicted and paid current market value for their property. It isn't right but that's the law.

#6 of 17 OFFLINE   Bryan X

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Posted December 28 2008 - 10:04 AM

I agree. I don't have a problem with seizure for this purpose.

#7 of 17 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted December 28 2008 - 10:31 AM

I understood Michael's comments in the opposite manner: a United 93 memorial shouldn't be considered a "public use" worthy of an eminent domain seizure. Surely there's a place for a memorial that doesn't requiring taking a man's property, if he'd rather keep it himself?

#8 of 17 OFFLINE   Bryan X

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Posted December 28 2008 - 10:33 AM

DaveF, When I first read Michael's comments I read it as you did-- that he didn't agree with seizing the land for the memorial. However, I think what he meant was that there are some contentious cases of "public use" and that a United 93 memorial shouldn't be controversial and will be generally supported. Michael can clarify for sure.
Admittedly, I don't know the details. If it's possible to build the memorial without displacing property owners that's how it should be done. But if that can't be accomplished, I still think it's an acceptable use. Do you know if they are talking about taking empty land (including farmed land), or land with home(s) on it?

#9 of 17 OFFLINE   Stan

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Posted December 28 2008 - 10:44 AM

This may not fall under the typical eminent domain takeovers like freeways, schools, etc. but if there were ever a reason for an exception to the rule, this certainly qualifies.
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#10 of 17 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted December 28 2008 - 12:08 PM

Flight 93 crashed in a farmer's field in Pennsylvania. I presume the memorial is going up in that field. It's probably so filled with debris and toxics (think hydraulic fluid) that it wouldn't be great for farming in the future anyway.

EDIT http://www.nps.gov/flni I forgot that there would be tiny body fragments scattered all over the field too.
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#11 of 17 OFFLINE   Bryan X

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Posted December 28 2008 - 12:51 PM

You're probably right, Dennis. I can't imagine too many people objecting to this anyway.

#12 of 17 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted December 28 2008 - 02:02 PM

United Flight 93 crashed into a farmer's field. The memorial is to be located at the site of the crash. The landowner, Tim Lambert, donated six acres in the immediate vicinity of the crash. The families of the victims used their share of the United 93 grosses to buy an additional 3 acres at the site. An additional 1,000 acres of land around the crash site was acquired by the families as "buffer" soon after. More land deals have followed, each negotiated in good faith with the land owner and resolved amicably to everyone's satisfaction. The largest remaining chunk of land left to be acquired is a 275 acre plot owned by Svonavec Inc, a stone and coal-mining corporation based out of Somerset, PA. This is not a case of Big Brother stepping on a small, humble farmer. Svonavec had used the land for surface mining before September 11. Now, however, the land is used to monetize the crash site, though "donations" to the corporation. The compensation being offered by the families would apparently offset the value of the land for surface mining, but not for owning a unique chunk of history that will be a cash cow for years to come.

#13 of 17 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted December 28 2008 - 02:38 PM

I don't agree or disagree with the seizing of the land. I literally have no opinion on the subject. What I meant was that, purely as a matter of legal interpretation, it would be difficult to argue that a memorial to the victims of United 93 would not be a "public use" within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment. I was thinking of the definition of "public use" adopted by the narrow majority in the Supreme Court's controversial Kelo decision (noted by Adam Lenhardt above). Even before Kelo, the memorial would have been considered a "public use", and I suspect it would pass muster even in states that have adopted stricter tests in the aftermath of Kelo. (I don't recall whether Pennsylvania is one of them.)
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#14 of 17 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted December 28 2008 - 03:35 PM

That's good to hear. My concern, based on the initial post, was that the aftermath of a terrible tragedy and loss of life would then be the forcible seizure of private property. It doesn't seem to "honor" a person by taking from another against their will in such a way.

But my argument is a moo point.

#15 of 17 OFFLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted December 29 2008 - 09:24 AM

[quote=Adam Lenhardt]Commercial development stretches eminent domain to its limit. In my personal opinion, it should not count as "public use," but the Supreme Court (in a 5-4 split decision) disagreed. /QUOTE]I agree. If a developer wants the land my home is on and I don't want to sell, how is that "public" use? Just because someone can make money and generate a tax flow to the state, doesn't make it public. What if he's building a very expensive and very private golf course? That's not a public use.
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#16 of 17 OFFLINE   Kevin Hewell

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Posted December 29 2008 - 11:04 AM

That's why many people have a problem with that particular Supreme Court ruling.

#17 of 17 OFFLINE   Kirk Gunn

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Posted December 30 2008 - 07:01 AM

I believe the increased tax revenues flowing into the "public" coffers is the rationale.... twisted, but government is hardly logical (or fair).




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