Another Victory for Property Owners

Property owners scored another victory on Wednesday night! This time the celebration was in Auburn, N.Y. Local residents cheered enthusiastically and one property owner even wept for joy when the Auburn Industrial Development Agency voted unanimously against using eminent domain to forcibly seize private property to give to Pioneer Companies—a private developer who wanted to build a Hilton Garden Inn and conference center in town.[1]

City Mayor Michael Quill argued a few months ago that while the project may be detrimental to a few individuals, the $11 million hotel would greatly “benefit” the city—benefit the city’s coffers, that is. According to the developer, the project would have boosted tax revenue by up to $160,000.[2]

The local property owners, Renee and Doug Ward, Michael Kazanivsky, and Hi Jiang, had told Pioneer Companies they did not wish to sell, and the community stood behind them. Yet, under incredible duress from the threat of seizure, some of the property owners did reach agreements with the developer, believing their fight was lost.[3] At the same time, they organized rallies and spoke to the media about the city’s abuse of eminent domain.

The situation received extensive media coverage both locally and nationally, and the Castle Coalition appeared with the Wards on Fox News, and a popular talk radio program.

In the end, the public pressure was too much for the Auburn Industrial Development Agency. Eminent domain is never good for the city or property owners. The Castle Coalition is glad that the city of Auburn now agrees.

[1] Eric Shawn, “Eminent Domain Defeated,” Fox News, May 6, 2010 at Live Shots Blog.
[2] Scott Rapp, “In Auburn, individual rights clash with ‘the greater good,’” The Post-Standard, April 5, 2010.
[3] Christopher Caskey, “Business owners talking with developers,” The Citizen, April 8, 2010.