Location, Eminent Domain, Location

Dec 13, 2004

By George Anderson

Location may not be everything in retailing but, if you want to be successful with a store, it sure is near the top of the list.

Unfortunately, retailers’ (especially big boxes) need for prime space is increasingly coming into conflict with the interest of private landowners and other businesses as the number of available and suitable locations shrinks.

As a report by The Day newspaper out of New London, Conn. points out, a number of these conflicts are being decided by states who are evoking eminent domain laws to make room for retailers to build new stores.

Some see government’s use of eminent domain to make room for big box retailers as an abuse of power.

Gideon Kanner, a professor emeritus at Loyola University Law School in Los Angeles said, “They’re (big box retailers) the new generation of robber barons, like the railroads of the 19th century. They look upon this as the new way of doing business.”

Government officials and retailers respectfully disagree, saying that the greater good of communities is served (jobs, services, increased revenues for government, etc.) when land is developed for use by the big boxes.

Moderator’s Comment: What is your position on the use of eminent domain laws to clear room for big box stores to build?

We certainly wouldn’t be naïve enough to suggest, at times, developers and retail chains are not at fault in some of these land dealings that wind
up as eminent domain cases.

In many cases, however, communities are better served when properties are condemned and developed for projects such as these.

Private property owners are understandably upset when they are forced to give up land for less than what they believe is its true value.

The government, however, is entrusted to look out for rights of the community as a whole and it is that motivation that has driven many of these eminent
domain cases.

If an individual’s rights are unjustly compromised, the courts provide a remedy to settle disputes.
George Anderson – Moderator

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