Eminent Domain Case Reaches Critical Mass

Be it ever so humble, it's still home

We talked about this disturbing eminent domain case involving Joy Ford and the Lionstone Group a few months ago.


The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency in Nashville has just made a move that stands my hair on edge.


Here’s a quick recap of events.

Joy Ford, owner of Country International Records at 23 Music Circle East has refused to sell out to the  Houston developer, the Lionstone Group.


Now the city is stepping in to make sure the deal goes through, with or without Joy Ford’s cooperation.


Let me say I’m very disturbed by all of this


Eminent domain always scares real estate investors.  You buy a property.  You work and invest in the property.  You stick with it in good times and bad times.  You pay your very high property taxes.


And what happens?  Another investor who is bigger and more powerful than you are can just take it away.


It’s one thing to take a property through eminent domain because it involves a new road, or the city really needs it. That’s bad enough. I know first hand because my family experienced that back in the 60’s, and it was a prime piece of property.


It’s something else to take the property for the purpose of allowing a developer to come in and grab it.


Am I being reminded of the story of Naboth’s Vineyard?  The evil Israelite king and queen, Ahab and Jezebel, had to have him stoned to get it.  (I Kings 21:15)


“Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell to you.  He is no longer alive, but dead,”  Jezebel tells her pouting  husband.


I know, I know.  It’s for the good of the community.


Look at the property taxes these financial giants will be paying.  Funny, they don’t say that so often after the giants’ properties fail. And the big guys sometimes go down. 


And exactly how much tax do they pay anyway?  We were kind of taken back a few days ago to learn that one big company in town doesn’t even think it owes propety taxes?  Hmmmm.  Wonder how that happened?


But let me point out something very important here. 


Our laws and our system of property ownership were built on trust.


The trust that you can work and increase the value of your property.


The trust that you can even have properties and you don’t have to worry about an Ahab or a Jezebel taking them on a whim.


Yes, the negotiations broke down between Joy Ford and Lionstone.


Negotiations  between investors and property owners break down everyday.  What of it?


So what’s the one detail that is doing Joy Ford in?


You probably already know the answer to this, because this loophole is being used all over the country.  We’ve  written about it before.


Metro claims Joy Ford’s property is blighted. 


I don’t know, from the pictures, the property looks pretty well kept to me.


But the Institute  for Justice is on the case, which is helpful.  I hope they can successfully argue her case, because they are really rallying for all of us small property owners, and I’m thankful.


Read more about  the case in the Tennessean’s account of Metro acts to seize Music Row property. (Hurry, I’m not sure how long the link will be live.)



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