This coming November we will see five (5) proposals on our Michigan ballot. Not that many proposals when you compare our state ballot to other states.
There is one proposal, however, that has yet to really see the light of the campaign trail, as it were. Proposal 4 is a proposed state constitutional amendment to define how and when municipalities can exercise eminent domain to seize private property, homes, or businesses. It also gives clearer definition on how classify a property as blighted for the purposes of eminent domain.
The long story short: Vote Yes on Proposal 4.
More information after the jump.
In June 2005, the US Supreme Court gave a split decision called the Kelo decision that allowed a community in New England to grab property from one private property owner and give it to a developer. The reason the community decided on this Robin Hood in reverse tactic was to increase their tax revenue base. As misguided as the Supreme Court was in ruling in favor of the community, the court made it very clear that this is a state’s rights issue and ruled in such a way that allowed individual states the ability to define how eminent domain issues are to be resolved.
Currently, a municipality in Michigan, on their own or at the behest of a developer, could define a property blighted and the burden of proof lies on the property owner to show it is not blighted. Proposal 4 puts the burden of proof on the municipality to define why a property is blighted. Defining a property as blighted, currently, allows the municipality to begin the proceedings of exercising eminent domain to seize the property and do with it as they wish.
The language for all of the 2006 ballot proposals are located here.