Tampa Heights Project has one critic by Mitch E. Perry

07/13/06

Public outrage about eminent domain abuses led state legislators earlier this year to pass an eminent domain reform bill to limit the powers of local government entities.

That law signed by Governor Bush now makes it more difficult for municipalities to take private property through eminent domain and turn it over to other private entities.

Today at the Tampa City Council, one property owner invoked Jeb and George W. Bush’s name in criticizing the possibility of eminent domain being used to have her sell her Tampa Heights property (roll tape#1 o.q.�sentiment�)

Carmen Brown Johnson lives on North Highland Avenue in Tampa Heights, and owns land that Developers want to purchase from her to build a 48 acre mixed use community called The Heights in Tampa Heights (roll tape#2 o.q.�the codes�)

Although other property owners in the geographic area of the site that the redevelopment is set to take place have previously came before the Council to complain, Johnson is seemingly the only one doing so now.

She says officials the City of Tampa, and the Better Place Group have visited her, pushing her to sell.

Rhea Law is the Attorney representing a Better Place. She says the developers have offered Ms. Johnson more than the appraised value for her property (roll tape#3 o.q.� In excess of�)

Two years ago, a popular revolt against Eminent Domain sprung into action after the U.S. Supreme Council ruled in the Kelo vs. New London, Connecticut case that made eminent domain an even stronger mechanism for governments to use to take private property for developers use.

Councilman John Dingfelder said earlier this year when eminent domain was authorized fro the Tampa Heights Project, another family mentioned that their homesteaded home was being threatened. He said at that point the City Council then carved out that family and said eminent domain would NOT be authorized for homesteaded properties (roll tape#4 o.q.�homesteaded property�)

Perrenial City Council speaker Moses Knott Jr. said Johnson had spoken to him before the meeting, and he spoke out in support of her (roll tape#5 o.q.�start on me first�)

A Mason Dixon poll taken last November showed that 89 percent of Floridians favored proposals that would limit the government’s ability to seize land.

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