IJ attorneys Dana Berliner, Scott Bullock and Bert Gall speak to media along with IJ clients Joy and Carl Gamble as IJ takes their case to the Ohio Appeals Court. The Gambles are no longer allowed to live in their own home of 35 years.
IJ Takes Norwood Eminent Domain Fight To Ohio Appeals Court
Above, many homeowners and members of the community came to show their support for property rights. Below, IJ attorney Bert Gall addresses the rally while client Joe Horney looks on.
On April 18, 2005, Norwood, Ohio, property owners and their community supporters rallied in front of Ohio’s First District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati before the Institute argued a challenge to the City of Norwood’s outrageous abuse of eminent domain.
Norwood’s kowtowing to private developers in this case is particularly breathtaking. When it was unable to obtain all the properties for a planned project, a private developer demanded that the City do an urban renewal study to see if the disputed neighborhood was “blighted.” (Not surprisingly, the study, which was funded by the developer in question, found blight even though not one of the homes or businesses was dilapidated or delinquent on taxes.) The developer also paid for all of the costs of property acquisition and is even paying the private law firm that defends the City’s actions in court. It is a total buy-out of the City of Norwood’s eminent domain authority.
The trial judge found that the City abused its discretion in finding the Edwards Road neighborhood “blighted,” but went on to find that the area could be called “deteriorating,” thus justifying the use of eminent domain. Among the criteria the City used to justify the “deteriorating” label is “diversity of ownership”—essentially, too many individual property owners in this particular area. As we pointed out to the appeals court, under that standard, just about every residential neighborhood in America could be fair game for a politically connected developer.
A decision is expected within the next several months.