What a mess:
E-mails document Carilion's interest in recently condemned business propertyOne gets the impression that, had Carilion executives expressed an interest, the Roanoke housing authority would have condemned the Hotel Roanoke and City Market for being "blighted" just to satisfy the city's most important benefactor.
By Laurence Hammack, Roanoke Times
As Carilion Clinic's medical complex rose up around a small flooring business on Reserve Avenue, officials with the health care system took a keen interest in both the property and a controversial effort to have it taken by eminent domain.
E-mails obtained Friday and Saturday show that Carilion wanted to build roads on the land at one point, and that it inquired about efforts to condemn the 3-acre tract.
The e-mails seem to contradict Carilion's statement that it was never interested in the property -- a position it took after a Roanoke judge approved the land's condemnation last month by the city's Redevelopment and Housing Authority. [link]
One also has to wonder, with this email revelation, why Carilion didn't simply approach the Burkholders with an offer for their property, rather than have the city do its dirty work.
But I think we all know the answer to this little mystery. Eminent domain offered a much more lucrative opportunity and Carilion jumped on it.
Welcome to the pernicious world of Kelo v. City of New London.
- - -
Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Bart Hinkle:
You may already have noted the striking similarity between the Roanoke case and the 2005 Kelo case -- in which officials of New London, Conn., condemned the house of Suzette Kelo and others in the working-class neighborhood of Fort Trumbull. The city had big plans for redevelopment: The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer was going to bring in a fancy new research-and-development plant, which, supposedly, would jump-start the area's stalled economy.A trend?
The Supreme Court's ruling in the Kelo case tore away the last shred of pretense that the government's condemnation power could be exercised only if private property were taken for public use. The court's majority ruled that as long as the government takes from the poor and gives to the rich in the hope of collecting more taxes, anything goes.
Well. Just a few days before [Roanoke Circuit Court Judge William] Broadhurst ruled in Roanoke's favor, Pfizer announced that it wasn't going to build its new R&D plant after all. The weed-choked lot where Suzette Kelo's house once stood will remain empty. Likewise, the news that Carilion doesn't want the Burkholders' property comes three weeks after the Grinches of Roanoke won the power to condemn it -- and three weeks before Christmas.
"There are many, many instances where we've found that the cities that agreed to eminent domain use not only destroyed local businesses but the tax revenue that the local government had hoped to generate did not come to pass."
For the love of God.