Jefferson County appears to be putting the cart before the horse. Last Thursday, the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce threw a big party to celebrate an industrial megasite proposed to built near the junction of Interstate 40 and Insterstate 41, according to Examiner.com. The party celebrated “a megasite that isn’t built or certified on land that has not been legally or rightfully purchased” and “toast[ed] jobs that have not been produced by companies that have no agreed to come to the un-built industrial megasite that isn’t certified on land that belongs to dozens of private citizens, many of which are local farmers,” reported David Oatney of the Examiner.
Apparently dozens, potentially hundreds, of landowners would be affected by the taking. Many have already received notices asking them to sell their homes The chamber has said that they “hope” eminent domain would not have to be used to acquire the property, but it is apparently not quite off the table either. As Mr. Oatney points out in his article, if eminent domain were used to “seize private property for the benefit of private corporations (as opposed to the building of a public road or public school), it would be and intolerable abuse of the constitutional doctrine of eminent domain.”
The controversy over the proposed development has already begun to stir hostility within the Chamber o f Commerce. Many Commissioners were not told about the plan until right before the public unveiling, despite the Chamber’s promises of an open and transparent process of debate. As State Representative Jeremy Faison put it: “Jobs we want, but to get them by taking someone’s legitimate property and livelihood isn’t right.” To read more about this topic visit the Examiner article here.