“The Colorado Supreme Court is supposed to act as a stout defender of civil liberties. But apparently all bets are off when it comes to private property. In that sphere the court seems to have embraced the Jesse James theory of property rights: If you can take it, it’s yours.
At least you can if you are one of those hybrid creatures so beloved by local politicians these days: a metropolitan district.
For many years metro districts, often created by developers with a nod from local government, have enjoyed the power to tax residents for things like streets, water, fire protection and parks with surprisingly little oversight. But life got even better for them this year.
Thanks to a state high court ruling, a metropolitan district now may condemn property to benefit the developer even when its board is staffed exclusively with employees and principals of the developer, and it has made little attempt to negotiate a purchase price.
All that the developer/district — they were utterly indistinguishable in this case — has to do, according to the state high court, is demonstrate its intention to use the property at a later date for public benefit, such as sidewalks, utilities and drainage, and it will be in the clear.
Surely this amounts to a dubious exercise of eminent domain — even under the generous standard proclaimed by the U.S. Supreme Court in its controversial Kelo ruling in 2005. Back then the court said the city of New London, Conn., could use its power of condemnation on behalf of private interests for purposes of economic development. Even the Institute for Justice, the libertarian law firm that represented the losing property owners in Kelo, appears flabbergasted by the Colorado ruling and recently petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take a look at the case.”
read the entire article
Carroll, Vincent. Complete Colorado 29 November 2019.