City of Stockbridge Loses Eminent Domain Case

Victory!

From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

In a case that has garnered national attention, a Henry County judge ruled late Monday that the city of Stockbridge cannot use eminent domain laws to buy the shop and use the property for a downtown revitalization project.

Co-owner Regina Meeks was the one feeling revitalized Tuesday as she stood among the elegantly arranged roses, Easter egg baskets and Beanie Babies and fielded congratulatory telephone calls from strangers in Detroit, Dayton, Ohio, and Tennessee.

“The old saying [is] ‘You can’t fight City Hall,’ ” Meeks said Tuesday afternoon. “I guess you can.”

Henry Superior Court Judge Arch McGarity’s two-page decision said Stockbridge did not show the shop would be used for public purposes. The city has 30 days to appeal and may decide what to do at a meeting Monday, said City Manager Ted Strickland.

The dispute has brought standing room audiences to the typically placid City Hall and prompted state lawmakers to jump into the fray. On Tuesday, Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a revised eminent domain law that could help landowners in future eminent domain disputes, but not the Meekses.

On the west side is Eagle’s Landing, a country club community that will soon host the only annual Ladies Professional Golf Association tournament in Georgia.

On the east side of town are mom and pop stores like the flower shop Regina Meeks opened in 1983 in a wood frame house on North Henry Boulevard, one of the city’s busiest roads. City Hall is two blocks from the flower shop.

City leaders look at the east side and envision 22 acres with a new City Hall, homes and shops. Last year, the city sent condemnation notices to property owners. Most worked out deals to sell their land.

Others, like Regina and Mark Meeks, thought the city’s offer was too low. The Meekses accused the city of negotiating in bad faith. The city said the Meekses were misrepresenting the facts. A special master ruled the shop was worth $325,000. The couple appealed.

We need to see more victories like this one. Private property rights should never be taken for granted. I cannot tell you everything I have been through to finally grab my little piece of the pie, and I pity the fool that tries to take it from me.

6 thoughts on “City of Stockbridge Loses Eminent Domain Case

  1. What disturbs me most about these eminent domain cases is that they invariably target the low income or middle income … and benefit most the high middle income and, dare I say it, the wealthy. You don’t see anyone condemning Ted Kennedy’s estate to turn it into a resort …

    Until the Supreme Court relooks this and reverses itself, nothing is safe unless you are wealthy enough to hire a platoon of lawyers or are sufficiently influential to avoid being messed with.

    I hope right wins out over might for these folks in the long haul … but I’m not betting on it.

  2. You are right on WS. I am still in shock over the kelo decision. I never thought in my wildest dreams that this would be constitutional. Again it’s redistribution of wealth, only not to the poor, but to the rich. We, the middle class, are being squeezed once again.

  3. Doc,
    yeah, to make it even more exclusive.

    “North Hills is trying to seize a private golf course for the purpose of creating a private ‘Village only’ golf course. This has nothing to do with a master plan that promotes the public good or eliminating blight…Rather, it is a naked grab for private property in an apparent effort to satisfy the private desires of a few elected officials.”

  4. Today 08/08/08 chanel 5 news reported a man was arrested in Stockbrige for not paying his trash collection bill for 3 months and failed to appear in court for summons regarding same.City manager Strickland stated he felt it appropriate to arrest citizens for not paying their bills for city services. That shows the mentality of Stockbridges Goverment.
    More and more city municipalities are pocked with officials who abuse their powers and push for more arrest that will put citizens before their local judges. These judges know the impact full court dockets have on keeping fee and fine payments coming in and how it helps their former peers who belong to the Bar association in work.
    They probably took notes from the City of Marietta>

    I’ll be mindful to stay away from both.

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