Minnesota passed some fairly good eminent domain reform legislation in 2006. It exempted several projects already in progress but made clear that “public use” did not include economic development. But the St. Paul Port Authority is attempting to get around the reform in its latest attempt to seize private property for a proposed business park by claiming that the property owned by Advance Shoring Company is environmentally contaminated.
Lee McGrath, executive director of the Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter, in a piece in today’s Si. Paul Pioneer Press explains the Port Authority’s scheme:
The Port Authority’s environmental red herring is just a means to an end to take Karen Haug’s land for the Port Authority’s real goal, namely, creating yet another “business center” redevelopment project on property that rightfully belongs to Haug and Advance.
The real story here is that the Port Authority is acting well outside its mandate and engaging in eminent-domain abuse for so-called “economic development” — the very thing the Minnesota Legislature made illegal in May 2006, a year after the United States Supreme Court’s infamous “Kelo” decision.
The Port Authority is using environmental scare tactics and abusing its eminent domain powers to force Haug and her company off their land. Keep in mind the MPCA — the agency responsible for environmental protection in the state — is not taking action against the property; it is being taken by the Port Authority under a bogus environmental claim.