A concerned group of citizens, with some help from IJ, has organized to defend their property rights from the lingering possibility of eminent domain abuse in a small North Carolina town.

When a city commissioner offered eminent domain as a possibility for executing a new redevelopment plan, local property owners teamed up with IJ and formed the Mount Airy Property Rights Alliance (MAPRA) with the goal of protecting their properties from seizure. As it stands now, the city’s redevelopment plan could threaten at least 20 different private properties in the town of Mount Airy, several of which are still flourishing businesses. This is in addition to several empty, city-owned industrial buildings that the city could redevelop without kicking successful business owners off of their land.

To add to residents’ frustration, the proposed redevelopment would not be for public use, but for new private development.  This could, however, make a land grab more difficult for the city’s Redevelopment Commission, though, as IJ Activism Coordinator Phil Applebaum pointed out in a recent letter to The Mount Airy News:

“Courts nationwide are rejecting eminent domain abuse as a tool for private economic development, and municipalities that have continued seizing land for developers have faced monumental bad publicity and years of litigation.

“Private negotiation—not government force—has spurred development in this country for centuries. Indeed, cities that have pursued development with a respect for property rights have enjoyed an enormous influx of private investment. And it’s no wonder: property owners know that their investments are safe.”

Read more on IJ’s history of fighting eminent domain abuse here.