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IPFS News Link • Eminent Domain

Fight erupts when city takes private property for 'park'

•, By Bob Unruh

A fight has erupted over a decision by the Long Island town of Southold to take private property that the owners of a chain of hardware stores bought for a new location.

The problem is that the town took the land against the wishes of the owners using eminent domain, but it had no legitimate reason for doing that.

According to officials at the Institute for Justice, that's known because the city insisted it needed the land for a "park," but that turned out to be a "passive park" with no cleanup, no improvements, and the remnants of an old home and greenhouse left there.

The IJ explained, 'When every legal effort to stop someone from using their property has failed, can the government simply take the land using eminent domain? That is the question at the heart of a new U.S. Supreme Court petition filed by a family-owned hardware store business whose property was taken by a small Long Island town."

It is the Brinkmann family whose members already have five Long Island stores and obtained the Southold property for another.

"The town did everything it could to stop construction. After failing to drive the Brinkmanns away by attempting to interfere with the Brinkmanns' land purchase, then imposing an exorbitant fee for a market impact study that the town never performed after being paid, and even deploying a selectively enforced moratorium on building permits to stifle the Brinkmanns' permit application; the town voted to take the land by eminent domain for a park," the IJ said.

At the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges said, "the government can take your property for almost any reason at all—including because it just doesn't like you—so long as the government lies about why it is using eminent domain," explained IJ lawyer Jeff Redfern.