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Columbia Missourian

Columbia charter amendment would restrict the use of eminent domain

By Missourian staff
March 30, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A city charter amendment on the April 2 ballot is intended to reduce the threat of eminent domain and blight associated with enhanced enterprise zones and other state or federal economic development programs.

The Columbia City Council at its Nov. 19 meeting unanimously voted to place Proposition 1 on the ballot. It would prevent the city from using eminent domain to acquire property for economic development with the intention of transferring seized property to private entities.

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The proposed charter amendment arose from a controversy last year over whether to establish one or more EEZs in Columbia. Residents became wary of the EEZ blight designation that targeted a large area of the city, saying that would render areas within an EEZ easy prey for the use of eminent domain.

The amendment would declare that the designation of property as "blighted" to qualify for incentive programs cannot be used to justify the use of eminent domain.

Representatives of Regional Economic Development Inc. have said they don't believe voter approval of the amendment would prompt them to propose an EEZ again.


Here is the actual language that will appear on Tuesday's ballot:

CITY OF COLUMBIA

PROPOSITION 1

Shall the Columbia Home Rule Charter be amended to add a section that would prohibit the City from using eminent domain to acquire property for economic development with the intent that the property will ultimately be transferred to another person or entity to be used for private purposes?

The designation of property as "blighted" for purposes of qualifying for any state or federal economic development program shall not be used as a step toward the use of eminent domain.


Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.