May 22, 2010
Federal Eminent Domain on the Border?
In another example confirming my belief that every legal and policy issue ultimately has land use implications, here's an article that touches on border control, the federal stimulus package, agriculture, and eminent domain. From the northern border: Vermont farmer draws a line at US bid to bolster border: Homeland Security threatens to seize 4.9 acres.
Would it make more sense to close such a little-used facility, whether on fiscal grounds or to avoid resort to federal eminent domain?
FRANKLIN, Vt. — The red brick house sits unassumingly on a sleepy back road where the lush farmlands of northern Vermont roll quietly into Canada. This is the Morses Line border crossing, a point of entry into the United States where more than three cars an hour constitute heavy traffic.
The bucolic setting of silos and sugar maples has become the focus of a bitter dispute that pits one of America’s most revered traditions — the family-owned farm — against the post-9/11 reality of terror attacks on US soil.
The Department of Homeland Security sees Morses Line as a weak link in the nation’s borders, attractive to terrorists trying to smuggle in lethal materials. The government is planning an estimated $8 million renovation here as part of a nationwide effort to secure border crossings.
It intends to acquire 4.9 acres of border land on a dairy farm owned for three generations by the Rainville family. Last month, the Rainvilles learned that if they refuse to sell the land for $39,500, the government intends to seize it by eminent domain.
The Rainvilles call this an unjustified land-grab by federal bullies.
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