5/26/2007

Downfall from eminent domain: York PA Dispatch, 5/16/07

The issue of eminent domain struck all the wrong chords at personal and political levels.

So York County voters yesterday fired two county commissioners in reaction to their efforts to seize private property for a tourism-oriented heritage park in Lower Windsor Township.

The rejection at the primary polls of President Commissioner Lori Mitrick, a Republican, and Democrat Doug Kilgore, both proponents of the controversial park proposed by the Lancaster-York Heritage Region, was a profound reaction to the county's use of eminent domain to acquire land for the project. It also put party politics, for a moment, on the back burner.

Incumbent Commissioner Steve Chronister, long an opponent of the park project for its use of eminent domain to acquire private property, will join former commissioner Chris Reilly on the Republican ticket in November. Reilly has termed the Lauxmont Farms land grab an example of big government at its worst.

They will face Democrats Ned Grove, who says the county cannot afford the project, and Doug Hoke, who called the project a disaster.

Mitrick and Kilgore both have served the county with dedication and integrity. But the issue of eminent domain in the case of Lauxmont Farms - the taking of private property for what elected officials perceived to be the public good - overshadowed all else. The seizures smacked of heavy-handedness and indifference to the situation of landowners involved.

And best intentions aside, the rejection of Commissioners Mitrick and Kilgore at the polls yesterday can be laid to their perceived eagerness to act in seizing land owned by others, and an unwillingness to listen to the concerns of opponents of the park project.

For those excesses, the political price has been paid.


York PA Dispatch: http://www.yorkdispatch.com