After years of living under the threat of eminent domain, homeowners in Richmond Heights could finally celebrate a Thanksgiving in peace. A suburb of St. Louis, Mo., Richmond Heights had tried to use eminent domain, not once, not twice, but three different times over the past decade to force homeowners in Hadley Township to sell their homes to benefit a private developer. But after the city decided to scale back their “redevelopment” plans for the neighborhood when many homeowners banded together to protest, these relieved homeowners could rejoice.
Take the Baileys. JoAnn and Arthur Bailey have lived in their house on Banneker Avenue for 48 years. They even hungan anti-eminent domain sign on their door to protest the city’s plans. But for the first time in years, “I finally took the sign down, and I cleaned the door,” JoAnn said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Now great-grandparents, JoAnn said that every year her children tell her, “‘Mom, this is probably the last Thanksgiving we’ll have here.’ But they come back every year and we’re still here.”
Also joining the Baileys in their eminent domain reprieve is Alice McGee, a 92-year-old homeowner. According to her family, during Thanksgiving, “she was shouting with joy that she wouldn’t be forced out. ‘I’m telling you I told the children, ‘God sure heard my prayer…I’m comfortable here. And I don’t want to leave my home.’”
As the Castle Coalition noted back in July, Alice had lived in her home in Hadley Township for almost five decades: “Her message to the city and its private developer is clear: I won’t sell, saying, ‘I keep praying to God for you to leave us alone. I want to live there until God takes me.’”
Their story illustrates the immense amount of perseverance and resilience required to fight city hall—and win. Throughout the years-long fight, these homeowners remained vigilant in their fight to keep the homes they rightfully owned from being taken by the government and handed over to a private developer.