Kelo Is Alive and Well and Living in Minnesota

If you are an eminent domain maven, you may recall a recent decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court, Eagan Economic Development Authority v. U-Haul Co., 787 N.W.2d 523 (Minn. 2010). In it, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed a decision of the Minnesota Court of Appeals (765 N.W.2d 403) holding that a condemnation of U-Haul’s land for redevelopment that would “reawaken the spirit of vitality of [that] part of Eagan” was not permissible because the Authority had no agreement with a redeveloper who would execute the redevelopment plan, and the Authority’s “plan” was indefinite. The state supreme court thought otherwise and permitted the taking.

And here we didn’t know that “awakening the spirit of vitality” falls under the heading “public use” within the meaning of the Constitution.

So far, this is one of those dog-bites-man stories that seems familiar to us mavens, even if the court’s decision was unfortunate. But what was remarkable about that decision was that even as the Minnesota Supreme Court wrote, it knew that there wasn’t going to be any redevelopment. As the court conceded in  its opinion, the “project did not materialize” because developers withdrew their proposals. So you’d think that the case was moot, or at least that the attempted taking was unsupported by any rational plans, thus failing to meet the “public use” standard, even as loosely defined by the Kelo decision.

Now, we thought you would like to see what the site of that redevelopment projects looks like, and here it is.


So the Kelo disaster now has a worthy competitor or at least a runner-up.  Kelo, as you may recall, also turned out to be a disaster like that. The land taken by New London, Connecticut, from Susette Kelo and her neighbors for redevelopment back in 2000, is just sitting vacant, generating no taxes, and doing no one any good. Last we heard from that bailiwick, after wasting way over $100 million in state and local funds, it was being used as a dump for the debris generated by hurricane Irene.

As far as we know, the site of the misbegotten U-Haul condemnation in Minnesota has likewise generated nothing useful — it’s just sitting there.

Alas, as we never tire of reminding our readers, it’s your tax money at work.