Eminent Domain Controversies Continue
By George Anderson
When the Supreme Court ruled by a five to four margin last year that local governments had the right to invoke eminent domain for the purpose of clearing space for retail development, there were many who thought the justices got it wrong.
Now, the city of Hercules, Cal. is considering the use of eminent domain to keep a retailer, in this case Wal-Mart, out. If the city decides to enforce eminent domain it would be using the statute to seize 17 acres of land where the retailer intends to build a store and shopping center.
Jeffra Cook, a Hercules resident since 1988, told The Associated Press why she favors the city taking steps to keep the retailer out of the community. “We want something good to take that place,” she said. “There aren’t a lot of good stories about Wal-Mart.”
City Councilor Charleen Raines said she does not remember any issue receiving such interest from the members of the community.
For its part, Wal-Mart accused the city of “playing politics” over the issue of the company building a store and a spokesperson for the retailer, Kevin Loscotoff said, “We’ve attempted to meet with the city and haven’t been given return phone calls or e-mails. In a case like this you’d certainly hope to have some sort of dialogue.”
Mr. Loscotoff said Wal-Mart intends to continue pursuing the Hercules project.
Moderator’s Comment: Do you oppose communities using eminent domain to make room for retail development? What about using the statute to prevent a retailer
from building? As a retailer, how do you deal with the issue of attempting to move into a community when a large number of residents are opposed to your building a store?
– George Anderson – Moderator