McDonald's

This McDonald’s restaurant is in East Lansing, Mich., and is owned by a member of the board of directors of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Blight Blowback?

In 2005, citizens in East Lansing, Mich., protested the city’s absurd abuse of blight designations in a proposed taking. The Michigan House and Michigan Senate have since taken testimony on the blight loophole in laws on eminent domain.

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When eminent domain is used to tear down communities for private development, compensation is cold comfort. And when government officials cite higher tax revenue as a public purpose, they imply that property owners exist to serve the government. In truth, the government exists to serve property owners.

garden of blighted home

Home in East Lansing, Mich.

The Hathcock ruling now prevents Michigan governments from using eminent domain for "economic development." But the state’s communities remain vulnerable, since entire neighborhoods can still be razed and given to other owners if public officials label an area "blighted."

Blight designations are not reserved for decayed properties. Government officials across the country apply the label freely to entire areas when they want land for new building projects.

In fact, these are just some of the properties that have been threatened with condemnation for blight.

For more pictures of buildings threatened with blight condemnations, see the Web site http://www.castlecoalition.org/castlewatch/ bogusblight/index.html.