Wherever it may happen, homeowners and community members are justifiably concerned when their local government leaves eminent domain on the table for a new development project. Cumberland, Maryland is just the latest example.

In a single day, a Change.org petition to protect a group of Maryland homeowners from eminent domain abuse has gathered over 2,400 signatures.

Woody Gordon, who has lived in his home for 46 years, is one of several Cumberland residents teaming up with the Institute for Justice to stop what the city calls the “Maryland Avenue Revitalization Project.” The development project would replace several homes—occupied mostly by seniors—with a chain restaurant. Gordon expressed his frustration in the petition:

“My neighbors and I refuse to sell. The only way that the city can achieve its “vision” for the neighborhood is to use the power of eminent domain to take our homes away from us. This power to condemn and take property is meant for public uses like building roads, bridges, parks and schools, not to benefit a private developer who stands to make a fortune on the project. Using eminent domain to uproot our neighborhood and destroy our homes is an abuse of government power. Despite our protests, the city refuses to take eminent domain off the table.”

IJ Outreach Coordinator Garrett Atherton has worked closely with the homeowners who are calling themselves the “Save Our Homes Alliance.” He says the looming threat of eminent domain sends exactly the wrong message:

“If the city and its partners choose to kick homeowners off their property for a chain restaurant, it sends a signal to every homeowner, small business owner, and investor thinking about moving to Cumberland that their property is not safe there and they are not welcome in this town. Hardly the way to encourage economic growth.”