Moscow on the Mississippi?

After reading this article, I’m wondering if I’m living the United States or in the former Soviet Union. Seriously, does anyone think that governments should be able to use eminent domain to take private property from a family to build biking hiking trails? That’s what Dakota County is attempting to do:

The county is seeking a “quick-take” condemnation, effectively a compelled sale, of four parcels of land in the park reserve, offering a total of about $2 million.

County commissioners voted in November to take the land, saying the properties are a key part of a planned trail and other features.

What’s more important: private property rights or giving government to take any piece of land to do with it whatever it wants to do? This is stealing. What’s especially appalling is the taking of the land to build biking and hiking trails. What’s worse is that Dakota County is attempting to steal this private property for a questionable project while offering the property owners settlements at far less than fair market value:

Aho said the county hasn’t shown enough progress on other planned improvements besides the trail to demonstrate a need for condemnation.

She also said the county’s offer for the land, $370,000, “drastically undervalued” assets like a marina and 1,000-plus feet of lakeshore.

After WWII, eminent domain was used to buy the land needed to build the interstate highway or other high priority pieces of infrastructure that led to great increases of wealth and prosperity to the masses. Since Kelo v. New London, eminent domain has been used to take property from private property owners and give it to government so it can create parks or bike trails.

What’s upsetting to me is that Dakota County thinks that the perceived wishes of the many are more important than the rights of the individual. They aren’t. First, the community’s wish list shouldn’t rate as a higher priority than a private property landowner’s rights. The thought that the landowner’s rights are getting set aside is disturbing enough. The thought that they’re getting set aside for something as frivolous as a community park is especially upsetting.

Next, it’s worth noting that special interest organizations are likely behind this taking. County commissioners don’t just wake up one morning and say to themselves ‘Hey, let’s create a new park.’ It isn’t a stretch to think that they’re approached by special interest organizations who have an agenda but who don’t live near the proposed takings.

Finally, check out the government’s arrogance:

“There’s a great need for this,” commissioner Kathleen Gaylord said at the meeting. “We do need to move forward. The board has come to the conclusion that it is time to move forward. This is a needed piece of property in order to complete our trail in the Spring Lake Park area and to provide the access to the park that our master plan has envisioned for decades. We’re just coming to the head now. It’s time to move forward.”

The board’s conclusion. The commissioners’ needs. The project’s vision. What’s appalling is that Kathy Gaylord and 5 other commissioners put the government’s wish list ahead of the private property owner’s rights. Apparently, Kathy Gaylord and the other slugs who voted to take this land don’t care about these families’ rights.

Anytime that government puts a higher priority on their projects than they put on individuals’ rights, our nation moves closer to authoritarian rule. That isn’t who we are as a nation.

We The People should reject this type of tyrannical government ASAP.