Skip to comments.Freeport moves to seize 3 properties-Court's decision empowers the city to acquire the site...
Posted on 06/24/2005 8:16:19 PM PDT by InvisibleChurch
Freeport moves to seize 3 properties Court's decision empowers the city to acquire the site for a new marina By THAYER EVANS Chronicle Correspondent
FREEPORT - With Thursday's Supreme Court decision, Freeport officials instructed attorneys to begin preparing legal documents to seize three pieces of waterfront property along the Old Brazos River from two seafood companies for construction of an $8 million private boat marina.
The court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that cities may bulldoze people's homes or businesses to make way for shopping malls or other private development. The decision gives local governments broad power to seize private property to generate tax revenue.
"This is the last little piece of the puzzle to put the project together," Freeport Mayor Jim Phillips said of the project designed to inject new life in the Brazoria County city's depressed downtown area.
Over the years, Freeport's lack of commercial and retail businesses has meant many of its 13,500 residents travel to neighboring Lake Jackson, which started as a planned community in 1943, to spend money. But the city is hopeful the marina will spawn new economic growth.
"This will be the engine that will drive redevelopment in the city," City Manager Ron Bottoms said.
Lee Cameron, director of the city's Economic Development Corp., said the marina is expected to attract $60 million worth of hotels, restaurants and retail establishments to the city's downtown area and create 150 to 250 jobs. He said three hotels, two of which have "high interest," have contacted the city about building near the marina.
"It's all dependent on the marina," Cameron said. "Without the marina, (the hotels) aren't interested. With the marina, (the hotels) think it's a home run."
Since September 2003, the city has been locked in a legal battle to acquire a 300-by-60-foot tract of land along the Old Brazos River near the Pine Street bridge as well as a 200-foot tract and 100-foot tract along the river through eminent domain from Western Seafood Co. and Trico Seafood Co.
Eminent domain is the right of a government to take private property for public use upon payment of the fair market value.
The tracts of land would be used for a planned 800- to 900-slip marina to be built by Freeport Marina, a group that that includes Dallas developer Hiram Walker Royall. He would buy the property from the city and receive a $6 million loan from the city to develop the project.
Freeport Marina would then invest $1 million in the project and contribute a 1,100-foot tract of land, valued at $750,000, to it before receiving the loan.
Western Seafood spokesman Wright Gore III said the wholesale shrimp company was disappointed with the Supreme Court decision, but believes the ruling does not apply to the city's eminent domain proceedings.
He said there is a provision in state law that allows residents of a city to a circulate a petition to call a vote on whether the city can take property using eminent domain.
"(This) is far, far from over," Gore said. "(We) would have liked to have seen a victory on the federal level, but it is by no means a settled issue."
Gore said Western Seafood's 30,000-square-foot processing facility, which sits on the 300-by-60-foot tract, would be forced to close if the land were seized.
That facility earns about $40 million annually, and Western Seafood has been in business in Freeport since 1946, he said.
City officials, however, have said the marina will still allow Western Seafood and Trico Seafood, which did not return telephone calls or e-mail Thursday, to operate their facilities.
In August, U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent ruled against a lawsuit filed by Western Seafood seeking to stop the city's eminent domain proceedings. The seafood company then appealed its case to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, a request that initially was denied.
The appeals court then decided it would take the case, but not rule on it until after the Supreme Court made a ruling on the New London, Conn., case.
kind of makes you wanna puke, don't it?
This whole business can be undone with jury nullification.
Instead of puking, how 'bout fighting! Don't you think it's time yet or shall we wait until we are all in some stockade.
I sure will if they ever try doing something like this on one of my properties!!
Lock and Load!!
And so it begins!
If this continues un-abated and un-challenged, the War on Terror is going to be just a distant blip on the radar.
Private property rights- a worthy hill to die on.
Anybody out there still think the next few SCOTUS nominations aren't important?
It makes me ill. Just who will be using these private marinas?
Is there any way that a class action suite could be brought against this court desision on behalf of every property owner, including all future property owners?
Now we get to find out whose city offficials are enlightened and which skipped ethics class.
The trend on much of the private development projects are for malls, restaurants, hotels, and other retail like , consumer oriented business. The wishful thinking is that this retail trade will somehow revitalize a depressed area. Yeah right! Just like the next shot of Heroin revitalizes the drug addict. come back a few years later and many of the developments are doing poorly. To revitalize, you need real industry, production, and entrepreneurship. The retail developers make their quick profit, and the town is left holding the empty dime bag when the still depressed economy can't support all this extra retail business. Town officials are not businessmen, they are usually public employees or town politicos, the developers steal their shirts then get outta dodge. This is not worth giving up our liberty for.
Justice Stevens needs to be removed from office. In Gonzales v. Raich Justice Stevens effectivelly deleted the words" with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;" from section 8 of article 1. In Kelo v. New London the words "for public use" have been deleted from amendment 5. It is simply UNACCEPTABLE for sections of the Constitution to be nullified. If the Justices are incapable of sticking to the text, the congress should refuse to allow them to continue on the bench. It's that simple. Either we have a Constitution or we do not. If they cannot abide their oath to "support and defend" they should not be allowed to serve.
Call your congressman today.
Prior to that, he was a career educator and principal whose lived his whole life with his head in the public trough. Your won't find a darker stripe of liberal anywhere else in this community.
While in office as Judge, I seem to remember him sending campaign literature out on county letterhead. All in all, nothing different than the normal liberal tripe we're accustomed to seeing.
It's odd that property bounding the proposed marina has been declared "blighted", yet property tax valuations are duly ratcheted up 10 percent annually.
With government like this, Durbin, Hagel et al, we're long past the time to lock and load. Until some of these bozos are found swinging from a lamp post in town squares across the country, I doubt things will get better.
That said, I'm a really nice guy, but don't let that out.
I think the key here...is that if were for a university or for a new city hall...we might be able to understand and approve of this more. But if its for private club members or rich Americans who want to live along the sandy beachside...then we don't really believe in this. The only weapon left to fight with in a episode like this is a recall of the county commission members. They are allowing the rezoning and the purchasing of the property...and they should be the immedate target. All you have to do is put a picture of the commissionar involved and letter it "who works for who"...and the dude will look as dumb as a brick.
Schools and city halls don't have to be on other people's property. There is land for sale. It may not be exactly where they would like to be but.... I would like to see ED completely removed from the constitution. Roads aren't straight and can go around properties not for sale.
I majored in Philosophy/English Lit back in the day, and I remember every ethics class being centered around moral relativism and "meta-ethics" (might be different in Christian colleges). Sometimes its just better to stick with the Ten Commandments. That is, let your yes be yes, and your no be no. (i.e. "If thou wilt not follow the ten commandments, then thou wilt be enslaved to the 10,000 commandments")
or something like that.
The toothpaste is out of the tube. Sooner or later these slick politicians will try to confiscate the wrong guy's property. Sooner or later... sooner or later.
And if that guy gets caught and arrested for defending his property, and I am on that guy's jury? There will not be any conviction, period. I don't care what he did.
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