What’s happened to right to property?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The threat of eminent domain has again surfaced in one of Shelby County’s municipalities.

Columbiana city leaders want to quickly take property owned by someone else and name their own price for the forced transaction.

That’s not how America’s free market is supposed to work.

If an entity wants a certain piece of property, they should work out a deal with that property’s owner.

If the asking price is too high, don’t pay. It’s that simple. The place where both sides are willing to meet will produce a true &uot;fair market value.&uot;

So far, the city of Columbiana refuses to let Summer Classics name its own price for property the company currently owns. That’s wrong.

Similar to city officials in Alabaster who recently threatened eminent domain to obtain land for a shopping complex and municipal center, Columbiana officials have made clear their intentions to take the property through court proceedings if they don’t get what they want.

While they may be within the law if they do, in fact, use eminent domain, that doesn’t mean they won’t be abusing a privilege intended only for certain situations with extreme impact.

City leaders have said they might pursue eminent domain for the &uot;public good.&uot;

While more parking spaces would no doubt be a valuable resource for downtown Columbiana, preserving the property rights of its citizens and businesses should be of greater interest.

Some property owners in Alabaster were bullied into selling their property at prices they weren’t comfortable with to avoid receiving even less from a court-ordered deal.

Let’s just hope the property owner in Columbiana doesn’t meet the same fate