The power of property condemnation
Letter to the Editor:
One of our founding principles is that the actions of our government into an individual’s life must be as minimal as possible. When we talk about eminent domain, the seizing of a person’s property, the standard for such an intrusion must bear a very high burden.
Imagine you are a small-business owner or individual who lives in a house along a highway and a representative from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation knocks on your door and informs you they are taking your land by eminent domain. What would you do? Do you just hand over the keys? Do you fight “city hall” or if you are a “average Joe” can you afford the legal representation or just accept the minuscule offer to vacate?
Currently, almost all the laws, regulations and power regarding eminent domain benefits government at every level, and in reality, it always has with the simple understanding that it be for the “public good.”
Vague interpretations are a government specialty, and the term “public good,” is ripe for abuse. Does the government still take the entire property when a viable alternative is available?
It is the duty of every citizen to stand in the defense of a fellow citizen. The good citizens of Mahoning Township are losing the tax income from two extremely valuable properties: the property between Lehighton Kia and Lowe’s and our property to the right of Aldi’s.
The amount of traffic on 443 from the Thomas J. McCall Memorial Bridge to Walmart is the reason the PennDOT widening project makes sense, but putting a retention pond on valuable frontage is poorly thought out engineering.
This is the frontage that will be condemned for the two water retention ponds instead of being placed behind these properties. Forget the West Nile virus carrying mosquitoes and algae this standing water will attract, but how often will the trash from the highway blowing into these ponds be removed by PennDOT?
When we protect the inherent rights of an individual, we protect our own. To hold our government accountable, and keep its “just powers” in check, is the responsibility of all of us.