Saturday, January 27, 2007

Eminent Domain Watch, SR 32

At what cost will we widen a road? At the cost of chasing a good Westfield business to Florida. From the Noblesville Daily Times report:
When David O. Nelson opened the doors to Performance Feeders, the plant was located on Westfield Road in Noblesville – the same spot where Backyard Archery now stands. Thirty-three years later and a move down the road into Westfield, the plant is closing its doors for good in Hamilton County and moving its operation to another location in Oldsmar, Fla.

Westfield plant president Carl Nelson, son of founder David Nelson, said the whole thing is “horrible.” He said the reason the plant is closing is because the state of Indiana has taken the property by eminent domain to widen Indiana 32.Nelson explained that the plant’s septic system lies in the 10 to 15 feet of property the state wants for the expansion, and there is no other place on the firm’s property to install new sewers, in essence condemning the building.“So because of that is why they have to take the building — it’s only over, literally, like 15 feet, but you can’t operate,” he said.

A dose of common sense would have been a good thing here. For 15 feet, why not shift the road at Performance Feeders so that it could stay? Is that less important than a perfectly straight road? I guess so. Nelson is understandably upset:
“The governor works awfully hard to bring manufacturing here, and they just don’t work too hard to keep it once they get it,” he said. “When you listen to them with their big deals with all these tax breaks and stuff, but with the small manufacturing companies — mom and pop companies with under 50 employees, that’s not really where they’re interested.”

The man speaks the truth. If you have a flashy name, like "Indianapolis Colts" or "Lucas Oil", then you get fabulous considerations. If you are just the salt of the earth Hoosier, you can go pound sand with our government of Republicans and Democrats.

Libertarians oppose mindless use of eminent domain such as this. Libertarians were on the forefront of the opposition to the Kelo v. New London decision, the attempt to take the NK Hurst bean plant in Indianapolis, and countless other less notable cases. We will grudgingly concede the use of eminent domain in true public need cases, such as dams, roads, and bridges, but we insist on fair compensation for the property owner, and we insist on common sense.

Too bad there isn't any common sense here. I hope this is an isolated case, but I imagine this is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Just wait til the US 31 eminent domain games begin. That will be quite a spectacle.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, as a matter of fact is IS more important to have a straight road. You want to drive along a highway that curves in and out every couple of hundred yards for the happenstance of accommodating property lines drawn generations ago? Here the owner got paid full fair market value for the diminution in the value of his property, plus relocation assistance payments. He chose to use the money to relocate to Florida. Isn't that the essence of free capitalism and a fundamental tenet of libertarianism?

Mike Kole said...

Sure, he chose to accept, but let's be real: It's eminent domain. In such cases, you can choose to accept, or you can can choose to go to court, where the property owners historically get even less than the thin deal originally tendered.

The fundamental tenet of libertarianism is the primacy of the individual over the collective. So, no, the straight road is not more important than the satisfaction of the property owner. I'll concede that because he accepted, it makes it look like he's happy. Read the news story from front to end. Does he sound happy?