Ohio Citizens Launch
Buckeye Coalition for Eminent Domain Reform
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 1, 2006
Julie Wiltse or Lynn Farris
Lakewood, Ohio—The Buckeye Coalition for Eminent Domain Reform is an organization of concerned citizens from across Ohio – 100 members and growing – that have joined together to fight the abuse of eminent domain. The group is focused on ensuring that the Legislative Task Force on Eminent Domain makes recommendations to the Ohio General Assembly that will provide real protections for property owners in the Buckeye State.
Representatives of the Buckeye Coalition will attend every meeting of the Task Force and report back to its membership. Task Force meetings are tentatively scheduled for March 2, March 16 and March 30, and its preliminary report is due April 1, 2006. The Coalition will also provide the Task Force with information about the abuse of eminent domain in Ohio, including personal testimony.
The group is concerned with the unbalanced nature of the Task Force. “One member, Richard Tranter, has an obvious conflict of interest,” said Julie Wiltse, co-founder of the Buckeye Coalition. Tranter’s law firm is representing developer Jeffrey Anderson in City of Norwood v. Horney, an eminent domain case now before the Ohio Supreme Court. “The recommendations of this Task Force could have far-reaching effects on his client, his law firm and himself,” Wiltse said.
Along with their neighbors and other concerned Lakewood citizens, co-founders Julie Wiltse and Lynn Farris defeated a bogus blight designation in Lakewood in 2003. The city declared more than 50 homes in their neighborhood blighted, and thus eligible for eminent domain for private development, because, among other things, the homes didn’t have two full bathrooms or three full bedrooms. The story received national attention (including a feature on 60 Minutes) as an example of how eminent domain is abused to benefit private developers. Because of a successful referendum and initiative campaign, the neighborhood still stands.