The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that a Cuyahoga County judge heard arguments yesterday in a dispute between land owners and developers over the future of the Flats. Scott Wolstein and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority sued to use eminent domain against property owners in an area of the east bank, clearing the way for a $230 million neighborhood that port authorities insist would bring real and substantial growth to an otherwise stagnated area, as well as thousands of new jobs and millions in wage taxes. Property owners contend that Wolstein has failed to offer them a fair price, is promising “vague, illusory” improvements, and is using eminent domain to promote his own interests based on a blight study that used “overbroad and capricious” standards. Eminent domain has become an increasingly controversial topic following a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing the taking of land for economic purposes, although the Ohio Supreme Court last summer held that economic development alone doesn’t warrant a taking. Ohio lawmakers are considering legislation limiting the use of eminent domain, fueled by a backlash to the U.S. Supreme Court decision by property rights advocates.
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