J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · August 4, 2016

Tomorrow, a group of Ogden, Utah, residents working with the Institute for Justice, a national public interest law firm, will announce the formation of the Ogden Alliance Against Eminent Domain Abuse (Ogden Alliance), a new community group aimed at fighting the city’s illegitimate abuse of blight designations and eminent domain. The residents will also distribute yard signs throughout the neighborhood that read “Hands Off My Home.”

The formation of Ogden Alliance follows the city’s recently delayed attempt to declare a nine-block area of Ogden “blighted”—the legal precursor to using eminent domain in Utah. Since then, residents have organized themselves, spoken out about the blight designation, and questioned the city’s plans for the neighborhood.

The city has responded by clouding the conversation, suggesting that this is all a misunderstanding and assured residents that the city has no plans to use eminent domain. But despite the city’s assurances, Ogden officials continually refuse to take eminent domain off the table. In fact, Tom Christopulos, Ogden’s Community and Economic Development Director, even admitted that eminent domain is his agency’s “trump card” and that he needs it to provide extra “leverage” against property owners.

“There is no misunderstanding here; the city’s intentions are crystal clear,” said Ogden Alliance member Dianne Egbert. “If they weren’t going to use eminent domain, then they’d take it off the table. But they won’t, and that tells us everything we need to know.”

Egbert continued: “The city has no business using its power to ‘leverage’ its residents or use eminent domain as a ‘trump card.’ That’s not how government is supposed to treat their constituents. Ogden has no right to threaten our homes just because they want something else in the neighborhood. We’re uniting as a single voice to clear the air about Ogden’s illegitimate efforts to declare our perfectly fine homes ‘blighted’ and defend our rights as homeowners.”