Eminent domain abuse is still…eminent domain abuse

Citizens of Ozark, Mo., were able to stave off the threat of eminent domain in the Finley River project area last year, but eminent domain once again threatens a property owner in the area…no, not residents, but the developer.

The city doesn’t want to have a full out redevelopment wreck on its hands and is condemning the developer-owned property because the developer failed to meet deadlines last year after the city sold property it had earlier purchased (with the threat of eminent domain) from residents. The city has been fairly clear in saying that it will only condemn the developer’s land and not that of residents.

While the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority (LCRA) files petitions to condemn in court, LCRA officials are already in talks with another developer.

The city of Ozark and the original developer are already in court, disputing over who terminated the contract between the two and whether the city owes the developer money for the work that’s already been done. (Of course, it seems that not much has actually been done.)

Despite all of that the residents formerly threatened with eminent domain abuse, though noting the irony of the situation, remain opposed to eminent domain abuse…even if it’s against the developer who benefited earlier from that threat. The problem? Well, besides still being eminent domain abuse, the city’s actions make it appear fickle and thus unappealing to a future developer, since the city might find it doesn’t like the next developer and decide to condemn the land again.

As with other eminent domain threats the problem facing the community is: who would want to invest in a neighborhood where property ownership is essentially up for grabs and determined by the whim of city officials?

Jane Carpenter, who led the grassroots effort against eminent domain in the past, also opposes this effort to use eminent domain, telling a local news station, "If they will do this to someone who’s been working with them for four years, I would have my doubts on coming in. I just hope these guys will see what’s happening and think of another way of going about doing this, a more respectful way."