3/26/2006

Eminent Domain: Peace for Neubert Purser? The Conservative Voice, 1/28/06

By Nathan Tabor

Imagine for a moment that you have just saved up enough money to purchase some land and a home of your own. This land and the house aren’t in the best shape, but you know with hard work and years of effort you can make it into something beautiful.
You spend the next twenty, thirty, forty years doing just that. Your land and your home are now admired by others, and you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in life, having made something out of nothing. This is the American Dream, is it not? To live out your years on the land you have come to love - to grow old on the land you have cultivated and worked on all of your life.

What part of the American Dream allows the government to come and steal your land away from you?

That part would be something called Eminent Domain, which effectively allows the government to ‘condemn’ your land and take it from you and this can include your home as well. All states have variations of Eminent Domain laws on the books, though some use it only in emergency or specific situations. The law was created with the intention of buying land for roadways, etc. Yet the intention is now being abused by what officials are calling a ‘wider interpretation of the law’. Apparently, some states feel they can take your land for anything that might be used by the public. There is a huge difference between acquiring land for a roadway and forcing someone to give up his or her land for a town park. The state will compensate you, but usually at only a fraction of what the property is valued. Not only does the landowner lose land, he loses money as well.

If you think Eminent Domain issues only happen in other states, think again. This is the story of Neubert Purser, 83, a decorated WWII veteran who had his precious land taken from him by Eminent Domain. His 72-acre farm on Matthews-Mint Hill Road in Matthews, North Carolina caught the eye of those in the town of Matthews who wanted it for a town park. They wanted it, and they took it, as easy as that. Neubert Purser has no recourse under the law, no legal way to stop them from taking his land. How could a man who so selflessly served his country, who had worked all of his life to make his land something he could be proud of be treated this way? How could we let this happen?

Just because the law allows for an action does not in any way mean that the action is morally correct. We are still responsible for our actions against others, and we have an obligation to put reason and sensibilities above the legal wording of our laws. An injustice has been done to Neubert Purser, and it is up to the people of this state to take action to right this wrong.

Stories like this one are deeply saddening and should cause us great concern for our future. When we allow ourselves to hide behind the government and act on laws without any concern for the welfare or justice of others, we lose the compassion and understanding that holds the very foundation of our society and communities together.

We must not let the actions of a few dictate our future. We need to review Eminent Domain laws and ensure that this kind of abuse does not happen again.


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