The occasional irony of eminent domain

It was to complement the Pfizer facility that the city of New London invoked eminent domain on the properties of Susette Kelo and her neighbors. On January 5, Crain’s New York Business reported:

Assemblyman Vito Lopez, D-Brooklyn, has written a bill to condemn several acres in Williamsburg that Pfizer has owned since the 1800s. He wants the plot taken by eminent domain to make way for affordable housing.

But Pfizer denies Mr. Lopez’s claim that the drugmaker reneged on a pledge to give the land away for public use once it closes its plant there. The company says that it made no such promise and that it has set development guidelines that include affordable housing, job creation and opportunities for minority-owned contractors.

Pfizer has hired lobbyist Joni Yoswein to defend its interests in Albany. A company spokesman says Mr. Lopez’s threat of using eminent domain presents “a chilling precedent for future development across New York.”

In other ironic takings news, the Warren, Ohio, Tribune-Chronicle reported on Friday that Liberty Township may seize a portion of the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corporation’s property to give to a developer. MVEDC will not give up the easement strip unless the developer buys the entire property.

Quoth the lawyer for the developer: “Frankly, we had anticipated a much more receptive response given your organization’s purpose of fostering economic development and growth in the Youngstown area.”