Traveling down the Main Line to the Philadelphia Convention Center, several members of the Save Ardmore Coalition recently testified before the Legislative Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Threatened business owners Scott Mahan and Dr. Eni and Betty Foo and concerned resident Sharon Eckstein told the story of Historic Ardmore, which is slated to be demolished for a mixed-use residential and retail development, and urged the legislature to make changes to the state’s eminent domain laws. As part of the recently launched Hands Off My Home campaign, members of SAC attended the Castle Coalition’s Eminent Domain Activist Conference in July.
Despite the fact that the Historic District is full of thriving family businesses like Suburban Office Equipment and Hunan Restaurant, as well as the hall for local posts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion, the area has been designated blighted by Lower Merion Township—a clear abuse of the power of eminent domain and simply a way to grab properties for a well-heeled developer. And this story is being repeated across the country.
That’s why dozens of state and local governments, along with the U.S. Congress, are taking a look at their laws related to eminent domain—the abuse is real and widespread. They need to hear from people, like those in Ardmore, whose experience demonstrates the devastating effects of eminent domain abuse on individuals and communities. Apologists for eminent domain—especially politically connected private developers and tax-hungry politicians—make the incredible claim that there is no such thing as eminent domain abuse. The Castle Coalition and groups like SAC are making sure the truth is heard.