Of course, the reason for taking the property is a newly-discovered need for a road to go directly through the property, thus making the 'taking' necessary to meet a 'public use.'
The hypocrisy is overflowing, especially in this statement from the article:
"Mr. Finkbeiner said the road fits with the Village at Southwyck concept proposed by developer Larry Dillin.
“[Mr. Dillin] feels that it’s very important that that mall be broken up, that there be a connecting road running north and south, to link the beltway road,” the mayor said, referring to Southwyck Boulevard."
Unfortunately for the mayor, the site plan shown below (readily available here at the time of this posting), shows NO ROAD through the middle of this property.
(This image is shown with north on the right, and the beltway road surrounding the property running from the left - south - side to the right - north side. Reynolds road accesses on the bottom of the image.)
Of course, I'll admit it is possible that Larry Dillin has changed his site design, but I'd find that to be highly convenient to the city, considering that this site plan is the one he's been showing everyone since 2003.
And then we have the comment from our Republican representative of that district, Rob Ludeman, who says:
"“This is to move Mr. Dillard and Mr. Herring off dead-center. This is the step we need to take to bring [Southwyck revitalization] to fruition. It is blight, and it has had a residual effect on all the surrounding area, residential and commercial,” Mr. Ludeman said."
...admitting that the true purpose is not because they need a road, but because they want to redevelop the property and the property owner isn't interested in doing what they want.
And then Ludeman mentions that dreaded term - blight. However, Mr. Ludeman might want to read last year's Ohio Supreme Court ruling in Norwood v. Hormey which said that communities should not be targeting buildings in good condition and whose owners were not property-tax delinquent and declaring them blight. The Supreme Court also said that communities cannot claim 'deterioration' of a property as a reason for a taking.
From the summary of the case:
"The use of the term “deteriorating area” as a standard for a taking is unconstitutional because the term inherently incorporates speculation as to the future condition of the property to be appropriated rather than the condition of the property at the time of the taking.
Courts must apply heightened scrutiny when reviewing statutes that regulate the use of eminent domain powers."
It's the last sentence which is going to come back to haunt Toledo politicians. Any heightened scrutiny of this eminent domain action will show that they never intended for a road to be built through the middle of this property, that they've been frustrated by the owners' lack of interest in selling or redeveloping the property, and that they've come up with a thinly-veiled excuse of a sudden 'public use' in order to justify their actions.
And the cost to the public for this will be enormous, considering the projected budget deficit for 2008 and the fact that we have a half-built bridge in the downtown which has no source of funding for completion of the work.
Further, the intangible costs associated with this idea are immeasurable. The anti-business message alone could be the final nail in the coffin for many. And the precedent this would set for residential property owners is scary. After all, if they can do this with a mall, what's to prevent them from deciding any neighborhood is ripe for re-development and, when you don't want to sell, they just decide to build a new road and then take your home via eminent domain?
There's a public hearing on this scheduled for Monday, Sept. 24, 2007, at 4 p.m. in city council chambers. Newly-elected president of council, Michael Ashford, indicates that council would like to see plans for the road - and an explanation as to why this recently-discovered 'need' for a road through the middle of the property is more of a priority than other roads in the area.
You need to show up to this hearing and tell city council that such takings are, in the mayor's favorite words, "just not right."