County eminent domain hearings begin tonight

The following article appeared in the Johnson County Sun.

“County eminent domain hearings begin tonight”
Jack “Miles” Ventimiglia
Johnson County Sun

What do Johnson Countians think about eminent domain and should county government do something about it?

Property rights form the root of the question.

The Supreme Court this year decided in Kelo v. New London, Conn., that government could use public power to bolster private gains by taking citizens’ property. The decision set off a national controversy that has drawn in Johnson Countians, including Ben Hodge, a member of the Johnson County Community College board.

The controversy involves those who say there is something wrong fundamentally with the government taking private property from one person to bolster the economic gains of another.

The other side suggests government should be able to give private property to a developer so the government can reap greater tax revenues needed to provide public services.

County Commissioner John Toplikar appointed Hodge to head a task force to determine public thinking and whether the commission should take a position on eminent domain.

“Everyone is welcome to come and we’ll be taking public comment,” Hodge said. “We will be submitting a recommendation to the county.”

The first meeting is at 7 tonight at the northeast county building, 6000 Lamar Ave., Mission.
The second meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, at the main county building, 111 S. Cherry St., Olathe.

“Our goal with this would be to get the public input and we’ll be making a recommendation, likely directly to the county, for legislation which would relate to the county’s ability to use eminent domain,” Hodge said.

The recommendation will be made in January.