Citizens For A Better Norwood

Monday, March 19, 2007

“The Norwood case supports my position.“ “NOT. It supports mine.” “No, MINE.”

According to today’s Enquirer, each side in a Cleveland case is trying to seize an argument from our eminent domain case to support their position. Doesn’t this all sound painfully familiar?:

“The property owners say the plan is solely for economic development and to help one developer profit. But attorneys for the port argue that the plan would benefit the public with new streets and utilities, housing, a park and a marina, plus end blight and pollution.

The arguments also hinge on what constitutes blight - a key point in the Norwood case, in which the justices said the city's definition was too vague.** The Flats property owners say the standards by which the city declared many buildings blighted are vague and arbitrary.”

Some clarification is in order here. It wasn't Norwood's definition of blight that was the issue. Judge Myers ruled several years ago the blight study done on the Exchange properties did not prove they were either blighted or the lesser deteriorated. That left Norwood’s attorney Tim Burke with only one argument to take to the Supreme Court: that the properties were “deteriorating.” In response to that claim, the Supreme Court decision states:

4. The use of “deteriorating area” as a standard for determining whether private property is subject to appropriation is void for vagueness.

5. The use of the term “deteriorating area” as a standard for a taking is unconstitutional because the term inherently incorporates speculation as to the future condition of the property to be appropriated rather than the condition of the property at the time of the taking.