Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

DENVER–Local union leaders, some small business owners that faced condemnation, and other eminent domain lawyers are criticizing the USSupreme Court’s 5-4 ruling regarding the New London, CT development. The court says that New London is within its rights to raze homes in a working class neighborhood to make way for a riverfront hotel, health club and offices.

But local government officials say that the decision is too narrow to impact the Denver area. Indeed, they say that the ruling, other than affirming that decisions should be made at the local area, doesn’t directly apply to Colorado, where blight must be shown before condemnation. In fact, several people criticized the national media for over-blowing the impact of the decision outside of New London.

“We’re very disappointed with the decision,” Amanda Bradley, an eminent domain attorney with Hale, Friesen tells GlobeSt.com. “I would argue that it is a very broad decision. It sets virtually no boundaries. The justices did say that if communities want to put in their own restrictions, they can. But overall, I think it is a very bad decision as far as protecting property rights.”

David Minshall, with the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 7, who has helped grassroots neighborhood groups fight five proposed Wal-Marts, says that the decision paves the way for Wal-Marts to be built throughout the area. Wal-Mart could not be reached, but in the past, spokesmen have said that the unions have targeted it with unfair charges.

Aurora Mayor Ed Tauer says that Colorado already has some of the nation’s most restrictive laws regarding the use of eminent domain. And he says the Supreme Court’s ruling is far too narrow to apply to Colorado. “If they had made the same decision five years ago, it would not have changed one condemnation attempt that I’m aware of,” Tauer says. Under Colorado law, an area must be blighted before it can be condemned, he notes. Under no circumstances, can a government agency use its power of eminent domain just because it would like to replace houses or businesses with retailers that generate more sales tax revenues, according to Colorado law. Sales taxes are extremely important in Colorado, because the Gallagher and Tabor Amendments limit the amount of property taxes paid by homeowners.

Jeff Seifried, Aurora’s urban renewal division manager, says Aurora has only used its condemnation powers once. “If the Supreme Court had ruled the other way, I would say that it could have had some ramifications in the future,” Seifried tells GlobeSt.com. “But since they ruled they way they did, it doesn’t change anything. The status quo is still in effect.”

Frank Gray, the planning director for the City of Lakewood, agrees. Hesays the Supreme Court’s decision is consistent with how the court has ruled on such issues “for 200 years.” The Supreme Court decision, he says, does not involve urban redevelopment, but rather addressed an economic development issue. He says national headlines have raised fears that cities will now have the power to bulldoze homes to make way for commercial developments that bring more tax revenues, and that simply is not the case, he says.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

Dig Deeper


Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join GlobeSt.com now!

  • Free unlimited access to GlobeSt.com's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.