Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Friday, May 7, 2010

Comprehensive Planning & Shelby County's "Path to the Future" 2006 Socialistic Plan

South Carolina State Representative Joe Neal explains in this three minute video clip what happened to property rights after Richland County, SC adopted a Comprehensive Plan which incorporates socialist - sustainable development principles.

What Mr. Neal is explaining is what we have in place here in Shelby County, Alabama through the Comprehensive Plan "Path to the Future" which can be found here:

Discussion of this dastardly plan in addition to to the above credit link:
(also click on his archives link)
Articles by Don Casey:
***Read the article about the Shelby County woman the Commission raked over whose son needed heart surgery, which requires a lot of money. They would not listen to her pleas regarding zoning of her property, effectively "took from her" the value of her property and sent her running from the room in tears.
These organizations have done an outstanding job deciphering and exposing what this Comprehensive Plan really means for Shelby County. Kudos to their hard work!

The relevance of this plan and the blight loophole in the Alabama Amendment are tied together--what Shelby County has done by implementing this plan has in effect given them complete control over the citizens and stripped them of their property rights.

What is happening in Vincent is part of this plan. This is one of the reasons the White Rock Vincent Hills Quarry did not locate in an unincorporated area; "Comrade Dudchock" (County Manager) has given himself broad powers under the plan (and the "Home Rule" amendment to the Alabama Constitution) and "we all must fall in line with it" including the quarry.

We invite you to please visit the links and educate yourself on this plan so you will have a greater understanding of how this all works together.

The loophole in the Alabama Eminent Domain Amendment:
(a) Neither the State of Alabama, nor any of its departments, divisions, agencies, commissions, corporations, boards, authorities, or other entities, nor any agency, corporation, district, board, or other entity organized by or under the control of any municipality or county in the state and vested by law to any extent whatsoever with the power of eminent domain may condemn property for the purpose of nongovernmental retail, office, commercial, residential, or industrial development or use; provided, however, the foregoing provisions of this subsection shall not apply to the exercise of the powers of eminent domain by any county, municipality, housing authority, or other public entity based upon a finding of blight in an area covered by any redevelopment plan or urban renewal plan
*(Note the bold section and then think about the Comprehensive Plan.)
They have in effect given themselves the right to exercise Eminent Domain using "blight" in "any redevelopment plan or urban renewal plan."

A much stronger amendment was on the table, SB297 to really protect Alabama citizens from the SC Eminent Domain ruling, but it was defeated in committee and we are left with a much weaker bill.

One article cites this: “When Alabama first enacted reform, it still allowed condemnations for ‘blight’ under a wide definition of that term, but the legislature later closed that loophole."

This is what the above statement is referring to when Alabama did this in an "attempt to fix" the loophole:
Alabama HB 654
In 2005, Alabama adopted legislation that prohibited cities and counties from using eminent domain for private development or for enhancing tax revenue. 
Under the bill, blighted properties were exempt. 
This year(Dec 2006) HB 654 was adopted. The law requires that only those properties with significant structural or other problems detrimental to public health and safety can be designated as blighted.

Do you think severe blasting damage, flooding and sinkholes would qualify?
Who defines "other problems" and what criteria are used to determine this? Shelby County could answer that and they have with their Comprehensive Plan.

Earlier in 2006 with SB68:
Alabama's legislation (SB 68A) gives the former owner of property condemned for a lawful purpose, or his heirs or assigns, a right of first refusal if the property is not used for the purpose for which it was condemned or for some other public use.  
The former owner can repurchase the property at the price that was paid for the property, less the amount, if any, paid in income and transaction taxes paid in connection with condemnation. 
The right of first refusal runs for 90 days. Thereafter the property may be sold to any other person at a public sale after legal notice is given.
Three tries at this and they still do not get it right. SB297 would have done it all in one bill and that would have been the end of discrepancies.

Enter the Comprehensive Plan once again and its "sustainable development controls" and the mile-wide berth in determining "lawful purpose":

Published remarks about the weakness of the Alabama Amendment:
In the three years since Kelo, 42 states, including Alabama, have enacted new laws limiting eminent domain power, but many of the new laws contain loopholes that make them easy to circumvent. 
Some 19 states have forbidden takings for “economic development” but continue to permit the exact same kinds of condemnations under the guise of alleviating “blight”a concept defined so broadly that virtually any property the government covets can be declared “blighted.”
CATO Institute, April 27, 2008
*(Note that the date is two years after Alabama been "hailed" as "closing the blight loophole.")
From "Path to Future" Part II:
The goals of the Strategic Development Concept
(Page 3)
Recognize the private property rights of the individual
within a balanced framework that considers the
public interest and SHARED values of the COMMUNITY

Now, the SC Eminent Domain ruling was based on this same concept of "public interest" which overrode individual interest. Shelby County knew this and had to find a way around it that would not be in violation of Alabama legislative law and the amendment to the existing Eminent Domain law for the state.

Knowing the amendment was weak they adopted the "Home Rule" which has this language:
Amendment 707, Home Rule Section 1 (a) Except as herein provided, The Shelby County Commission may adopt ordinances, resolutions…for which no provision has been made by general law and which is not inconsistent with this Constitution or any local law enacted by the Alabama Legislature

Section 3. Eminent domain.
The Shelby County Commission may exercise the power of eminent domain as is authorized by general law.

The language "authorized by general law", "is not inconsistent with this Constitution or any local law enacted by the Alabama Legislature," allows them to exercise their CP terms and not be in violation of Alabama law as well as drive a truck right through the "blight" loophole!

They additionally cover themselves from legal action with this:
Section 4. Liability.
The Legislature may waive or limit the liability of Shelby County by law.

The doublespeak section of the "Home Rule" amendment:
Section 8. The powers granted to the Shelby County Commission by this amendment shall not be construed to extend to any matters which the Legislature by general law has heretofore preempted by operation of law, nor shall the powers be construed to extend to any of the following matters:

(5) Action affecting the exercise of the power of eminent domain.

Which means I have the power, but I don’t have the power. Doublespeak is common when differences between state and local governments arise. What makes this so troublesome is that the Alabama Amendment has not closed the blight loophole. The SC ruling, in granting broad powers for the lax standards of review in applying the meaning of “blight” to local governments, with NO OVERSIGHT, and allows Shelby County to carefully disguise its intentions and powers.

It should now make sense why Shelby County Planner Kristine Goddard has been so intimately involved with the entire process here in Vincent-- she is carrying out the socialistic agenda of the Shelby County Comprehensive Plan.

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