Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hypocrisy in Toledo

According to this Blade article, our mayor, Carty Finkbeiner, is dead-set to exercise the authority of government to take private property (Southwyck Mall) because he does not like what the owners are doing - or rather, not doing - with the property. (Background on the issue is here and here.)

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."


Hooda Thunkit said...

This smacks of a desperate attempt to put, at any/all costs, Southwyck into "his dishonor's" win column, either in preparation for another mayoral run in 2009, or is an effort to boost his financial viability in his "after politics" years, presumably on some developer's (who, obviously, for now, shall remain nameless) payroll.

And, "his dishonor" has never been one to let a contrary law or legal opinion stand in the way of him doing whatever he wanted to do, now has he?

Chad said...

And yet...not enough people wanted him out that baddly. How sick is our lil society?

This is blantant bullying and a waste of time and OUR resources. We cannot afford to go to battle with the owners of Southwyck.

Carty has proven in his 10 years as Mayor to incompotent and foolish. He will no more win this fight than he will suddenly become human.

And you're right Hooda...he ignores laws that do not apply to him...which is any of them in his deteriorating mind.

By all means Carty, you and your silly law department go ahead and take on the Billionair Club, you'll see what happens to fools like you.

It might be fun to watch, as the Dillard's are a OBC of their own, and they do it "Southern Style". :-)

The A-Hole Lawyer said...

Thankfully the Ohio Supreme Court has provided liberty and freedom seeking Ohioan's a tool to fight the takings permited in error by the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005)
268 Conn. 1, 843 A. 2d 500, affirmed.

Fight unreasonable, unrestricted, and uncompensated takings under emminent domain at every turn. Private homes are next, as have already been taken in Connecticut, Florida, and nationwide.

The A-Hole.

-Sepp said...

The first step in this scheme was for the mayor to call the area "blighted". Last week my own district council-puppet started parrotting the mayor and tossing the word "blighted" around in the media as if he didn't know that doing so would have an immediate effect on the property value of Southwyck and vicinity. Now these clowns want to build a road too?

I'm sure glad I'm paying a garbage tax to keep these fools' spending money available.

Robin said...

Question - Does it do any good to email members of city council? I am unable to make it to the meetings.

Maggie Thurber said...

Robin - if you can't make a meeting, email, call or write to your council members and share your thoughts.

I know that they respond to public sentiment - but even if they don't, you are their boss and you have every right to direct them to act as you think is right.

Or see if you can find someone to go for your and read your letter on your behalf???

Frank said...

I had recently emailed our mayor in regards to the "taking" of Southwyck and I did get an email response(don't know if it was from his hand or automated). It basically said "Thank you for your thoughts" with the "city of the future" mantra on the end.
I often have wondered about this phrase that he uses at every turn it seems. What kind of future is he trying to create for Toledo? When a major company (Costco) wanted to move into Westgate, he fought against them moving in (which I am glad he lost), then he gets into a verbal battle with government officials in Wood County on how they are stealing companies from Toledo ( O-I & maybe Fed Ex) and now this whole deal with Southwyck (which is making life a bit easier for other communities in NW Ohio to land deals of their own). If they do go to court, I hope he has the money, not the tax payers money, to fight this. Just like Chad mentioned, it would be fun to see this "fight".

I do have a thought in regards to the mysterious road that Carty sees at the Village at Southwyck--it is the blueprints for Levis Commons!

Maggie Thurber said...

Thanks, Frank, for raising the question as to what, exactly, this city of the future will look like. If current trends continue, mighty empty would be my guess...

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