Monday, April 10, 2006

How you can contact your State representatives

Call, write, or email your Tennessee State representatives and let them know you strongly oppose the House Bill 3450 and Senate Bill 3296 which takes away the property rights that exist today for farmers and rural land owners and creates legislation that means any farm or rural property can be taken by Eminent Domain.

You can find the contact information for your Senator and Representative here:

http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Who does the Farm Bureau really represent?

Farmers and Farm Bureau Insurance customers across Tennessee are asking themselves who the Farm Bureau really represents in the wake of Tennessee House Bill 3450. While it makes perfect sense for the Tennessee Municipal League to support House Bill 3450 as written the last group that should support this flawed bill is the Farm Bureau. So the question arises, why does the Farm Bureau not only support this abhorrent bill but why are they lobbying for its passage?

From the Farm Bureau website:

ACTION REQUEST – EMINENT DOMAIN

Because protecting private property is of great significance to all Tennesseans, the Tennessee Farm Bureau has launched the IT’S TIME TO DEFINE campaign to help clarify the eminent domain laws in Tennessee. Call your State Senator and State Representative today and ask them to support the following bills.

Senate Bill 3296 and House Bill 3450

Tell your legislator Farm Bureau supports the following concepts:

1. Clearly define public use
2. Clarify that agricultural land can never be considered “blighted" property
3. Limit eminent domain authority in siting new industrial parks


These are clearly lies. Damned lies. Existing Tennessee Statue already protects Tennessee farms from the “blighted" property standard. In fact the Joe Fowlkes and Jimmy Naifeh bill actually reduces this critical protection. House Bill 3450 does not define public use. It does not "Limit eminent domain authority in siting new industrial parks". IT EXPANDS EMINENT DOMAIN AUTHORITY SO ANY FARM CAN BE TAKEN FOR ANY REASON.

Is anyone out there a friend of Willie Nelson? We need to go national to shown the hypocrisy and treachery of Joe Fowlkes, Jimmy Naifeh, the Tennessee Municipal League, and our own Farm Bureau. Gas up your tractors, it is time to take this fight to the streets before the Capital Building.

Who is the TML and who do they represent?

The Tennessee Municipal League is a lobbying group comprised of Tennessee Mayors, professional lobbyists, and attorneys whose primary function is to expand government, increase taxes, and take private land. It is one of the single greatest threats to individual citizens in Tennessee. If you own property or pay taxes you need to understand what the TML is and who they represent.

It is no surprise that the TML is overjoyed with the Kelo Supreme Court ruling and will move swiftly to take as much private land as possible before restrained by State and Local governments. The TML is a primary supporter of House Bill 3450.


From the website of the Tennessee Municipal League:

The Tennessee Municipal League (TML) is a voluntary, cooperative organization established by the cities and towns of the state for mutual assistance and improvement. The League’s primary function is to lobby the Tennessee General Assembly on behalf of city governments. The staff includes a team of full-time, professional lobbyists who work with the General Assembly promoting legislation helpful to cities, and opposing legislation harmful to cities. Two extensions of the League include the TML Risk Management Pool and the Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund.


Other people have different viewpoints. Pete Edwards of The People's News in Cleveland Tennessee wrote:

Who do they really represent?

So, it is proudly presented by the Cleveland Daily Banner, that Cleveland City Council members David May Jr. and Avery Johnson were re-elected to the board of directors of the Tennessee Municipal League - like that is a good thing for the citizens of Cleveland. The Tennessee Municipal League is a front for usurping the taxpayers efforts to ensure a fiscally responsible government and continually scuttles any effort to cut government spending and lower taxes by lobbying Nashville legislators.

And who or what is behind this shadowy and sneaky little outfit - apart from sellouts like May and Johnson - public employee organizations of course. The Tennessee Municipal League's sole purpose for existence is to increase the size and cost of government for the benefit of it's members and to the detriment of the ordinary taxpaying citizen. May and Johnson are not the only ones clandestinely promoting these ideals, Cleveland City Mayor, Tom Rowland has been stabbing the citizens of Cleveland in the back for years helping his high-flying buddies at the TML.

If you call these guys and ask them what the TML stands for they will in all probability justify it as an organization of city mayors doing what is best for the city they represent. But look deeper and you will find it is primarily composed of government itself. It is understandable that public employees would want to improve their working lot and have a voice in Nashville but for local elected leaders to be proud to belong to an organization made up of their employees must be a conflict of interest. Ask May, Johnson and Rowland if they are members of any citizens lobbying group such as the National Taxpayers Union or the Tennessee Tax Revolt and you will see where there allegiance lays.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The furor in Tennessee over House Bill 3450

Slowly over the past few weeks the abhorrent eminent domain House Bill 3450 is unraveling. As House Judiciary Chairman Joe Fowlkes, D-Cornersville, and fellow Democrat Speaker Jimmy Naifeh of Memphis try to do everything in their power to suppress what is in House Bill 3450 and use every trick in the book to get this bill through the House before the true intent and details of House Bill 3450 become public.

The result is public outrage. This anti-farm and rural property rights bill is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It appears to offer protection for farmers and rural property owners but in fact it takes away existing protections in Tennessee Statue that protects the owners of farms and rural property. Governor Bredesen has been very distant to the point of being AWOL on this critical issue. What issue is as important as property rights? Why has Governor Bredesen remained so silent?

Noted Nashville blogger Blake Wylie does a good job reviewing the proposed amendments brought forth by State Republicans. Blake notes that Jimmy Naifeh will try to suppress these needed amendments.

The key component of the subterfuge authored by Joe Fowlkes is to replace existing language in the Tennessee Code Annotated that protect farms and rural property from the "deleterious land use" provision of the blighted standard and replaces that with the provision that a County or City may issue a certificate to take a farm or rural property by eminent domain for an "industrial park".

So what does "industrial park" really mean? Let's go the House floor and revisit the questions asked by Rep. Stacey Campfield to Joe Fowlkes.

Stacey Campfield: I see by your bill land can still be taken by eminent domain for corporate parks ?

Joe Fowlkes: yes

Stacey Campfield: I see by the definition of corporate parks that virtually any business can fit in the definition of a "corporate park" is this true ?

Joe Fowlkes: Yes

Stacey Campfield: So a Walmart would qualify?

Joe Fowlkes: Yes

Stacey Campfield: A K-Mart?

Joe Fowlkes: Yes

Stacey Campfield: I would imagine a sharp lawyer like yourself could also make a Starbucks fit into the definition of a corporate park is that possible?

Joe Fowlkes: Yes

Jimmy Naifeh: If this is the type of questions we are going to have I will stop all debate and end questioning now!!

Speaker Jimmy Naifeh loves to exert his political power. In the column from the April 2nd Tom Humphrey Naifeh was quoted, "If they want to be responsible for not having an eminent domain bill, we'll just have to let them bear that responsibility." said House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, referring to Republicans.

More from the Tom Humphrey column:

"I think what you're seeing is a clash between the old way of business as usual and a new way of approaching bills," said House Republican Leader Bill Dunn of Knoxville, contending that Democrats merely want to "rubber stamp a deal between special interest groups."

A House Republican "task force" drafted five amendments to the Fowlkes bill, which had been declared a "consensus" and a "compromise" by Democratic supporters. Dunn and other Republicans scoff at that notion, saying the bill was basically drafted by Democratic leadership to appease the Tennessee Farm Bureau, representing farmers, and the Tennessee Municipal League, representing city governments.

Democrats, in turn, claim that Republicans drafted their proposals in private meetings that excluded Democrats and other interested parties and say the GOP is simply seeking a partisan advantage.

The amendment that came up for a test vote would require that the government give 30 days' notice to a landowner who faces the loss of property through eminent domain. Current law requires just five days' notice.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Representative Susan Lynn speaks out against theft of private property

From Susan Lynn Republican Mt. Juliet:


This Session the Tennessee General Assembly is at work trying to guarantee and reassure the citizens of their private property rights where eminent domain is concerned. More than 60 bills seeking to protect the public were filed in February. Some of the ideas attempt to change the process; some attempt to amend definitions. Very quickly, one bill known as the Farm Bureau bill rose to the top and passage seems imminent. My great respect for the Farm Bureau is second to none. Like all of us, farmers in particular want protection from seizure of their private property for private economic development.

However, after being worked through committee, this bill essentially guarantees very little protection for Tennesseans when it comes to eminent domain. To quote Sandra Day O'Connor in her decent of the Kelo decision, the "specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."

The bill states that 'public use' shall not include either private use or direct public benefits deriving from private economic development or private commercial enterprise, including the benefit of increased tax revenue and increased employment opportunities - except in the case where eminent domain is used for; roads, public utilities, private utilities, housing authorities, community development agencies for urban renewal or redevelopment plans; or for industrial parks. Looking at that list, I really can't think of any exception for private economic development by eminent domain that the bill leaves out.

The bill also sets up a mechanism for taking land for industrial development. One merely makes an offer that is declined and then heads to Nashville to the Department of Economic Development for a certificate of need. Tennesseans with family farms reading this article who hope to hand their land down to their offspring may wonder how well the Department of Economic Development will protect their property from a seizure for private industrial development. One may ask why the certificate shouldn’t come from the Department of Agriculture.

The opening clause of the bill purports to quote Article 1, Section 21 of the Tennessee Constitution by stating there should be no use of eminent domain "unless the taking is for public use and accompanied by just compensation" but this restatement omits one other very important criterion "the consent of his representatives." You see the Tennessee Constitution includes an accountability clause. Elected representatives must guard their constituent’s interests and protect their rights while at the same time balancing the "common good." Faced with such a decision, most representatives would very soberly consider the rights of their voter verses the benefit to the public from such a seizure and therefore vote accordingly.

Another aspect of the bill that remains suspect is a clause that allows for the disposal of previously seized property by resale to a private person or corporation. Certainly fairness would dictate that any land acquired by eminent domain that the government wishes to dispose of should be offered to the previous owner, if living, for the right of first refusal.

Several other areas of the bill cause me to pause and wonder just what this bill is trying to secure or protect for the public. The Kelo decision shocked many of us and shattered our traditional understanding of the government’s eminent-domain powers and the rights of private property owners. Traditionally, public use includes a public highway, public school, or a military base. Public use has also included firms and government entities that offer government regulated services to the public and need property for right of way such as for water, railroads, and power companies.

The legislature must protect the citizens of Tennessee against the potential for abuse at the hand of our own government. Tennesseans should insist that the law require developers purchase private property on the open market. With the process this bill sets up can the use of eminent domain for things such as political favors or for imparting some sort of social justice be far behind?

Public Opposes Eminent Domain Abuse

Polls Remain Clear
Public Opposes Eminent Domain Abuse
PRESS RELEASE: March 27, 2006

CONTACT:
John Kramer
Lisa Knepper
(703) 682-9320


Arlington, Va.—In poll after poll conducted since the U.S. Supreme Court’s eminent domain ruling last summer, the public is almost unanimously opposed to government using eminent domain to seize private property for private development. Rarely is the public so united across the political spectrum.

“The American people are furious their property is up for grabs,” said Dana Berliner, senior attorney with the Institute for Justice. “They understand that the U.S. Supreme Court declared open season on their properties.”

Citations for each of the following polls are available at www.CastleCoalition.org.

MSNBC Poll (130,758 responses)

Should cities be allowed to seize homes and buildings for private projects as long as they benefit the public good?

Yes, all parties benefit in the long run: 3%

No, property owners will lose and developers gain: 97%

CNN Poll (177,987 votes)

Local governments should be able to seize homes and businesses:

Never: 66%

For public use: 33%

For private economic development: 1%

University of New Hampshire Poll

“And while New Hampshire may be divided over many issues concerning the Supreme Court, they are nearly unanimous in their opposition to the effect of the Kelo decision—93 percent say they oppose the taking of private property for economic development reasons, only 4 percent favor this use of eminent domain, and 3 percent are unsure.”

American Farm Bureau Federation (1,076 adults, conducted by Zogby International)

Oppose the use of eminent domain to further private development initiatives: 83%

95% expressed disapproval of the Kelo ruling

Hampton Roads Poll (4,947 votes)

Should local governments be able to seize homes for private economic development that will produce jobs and tax revenue?

Yes: 4.63%

No: 93.57%

CBS News, Denver, Colorado

Should local governments exercise eminent domain for retail development?

Yes: 3%

No: 95%

St. Louis Business Journal

Should the use of eminent domain be more restricted?

Yes: 86%

No: 11%

Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, Inc. (625 Florida voters)

Should the state legislature adopt increased protections for property owners?

Yes: 89%

No: 9%

Americans for Prosperity Poll (400 Registered Voters, Kansas)

Eminent domain for private concerns:

Oppose: 92%

Favor: 7%

Monmouth University (800 New Jersey residents)

Oppose taking low-value homes to build a shopping center: 90%

Oppose eminent domain to replace lower-value residences with higher-value homes: 86%

American Survey (800 registered voters nationwide)

Favor legislative limits on the government’s ability to take private property away from owners?

Democrats: 62%

Republicans: 70%

Independents: 74%

Retail Traffic Online Poll (200 retail and real estate executives and architects)

Agree with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in the Kelo v. City of New London?

Strongly Disagree: 84.5%

Quinnipiac University Poll (1,067 Connecticut registered voters)

The state legislature should pass laws limiting the use of eminent domain:

Yes: 89% (91% of Republicans surveyed, 85% of Democrats)

No: 8%

Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll

“In the wake of the court’s eminent domain decision, Americans overall cite ‘private-property rights’ as the current legal issue they care most about, topping parental notification for minors, abortions or state right-to-die laws.”

Chip Mellor, president and general counsel of the Institute for Justice, said, “The polls clearly indicate Americans think eminent domain should be used for public uses, not for private development.”

Rep. Campfield questions Joe Fowlkes and Jimmy Naifeh about House Bill 3450

Stacey Campfield: I see by your bill land can still be taken by eminent domain for corporate parks ?

Joe Fowlkes: yes

Stacey Campfield: I see by the definition of corporate parks that virtually any business can fit in the definition of a "corporate park" is this true ?

Joe Fowlkes: Yes

Stacey Campfield: So a Walmart would qualify?

Joe Fowlkes: Yes

Stacey Campfield: A K-Mart?

Joe Fowlkes: Yes

Stacey Campfield: I would imagine a sharp lawyer like yourself could also make a Starbucks fit into the definition of a corporate park is that possible?

Joe Fowlkes: Yes

Jimmy Naifeh: If this is the type of questions we are going to have I will stop all debate and end questioning now!!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Don Bosch says, "You get the right to a jury trial"

Not many people other than Steve Hall in Knox County government seem to think eminent domain for private use is much of a problem. You can also count those in local media as not being very concerned.

Why is it that only Steve Hall can see that their is a history of eminent domain abuse in Knox County? You could ask the current County Mayor Mike Ragsdale. That is exactly what local talking heads Susan Williams and Don Bosch did on the WBIR political program "Inside Tennessee" this Sunday the 26th.

Below is a transcript from today's television program.


Susan Williams, “Do we have an eminent domain problem in Knox County or in Tennessee for that matter.”

Mike Ragsdale, “I don’t think we have a large problem in Tennessee at all. When you look at the projects in Knox County that we have done each one have been accomplished without the use of eminent domain. I think that’s very very important. I think what has really happened is that some people across America have in fact abused that privilege. They have taken private land from private citizens to give to private developers for that kind of gain. I think you have to be cautious on that going forward. But in Knox County I don’t think we have an issue and we certainly won’t during the second term of my administration.

Don Bosch, “Are there any pending lawsuits over eminent domain taking of property in Knox County to your knowledge?”

Mike Ragsdale, “None that I know of.”

Don Bosch, “And to your knowledge has County government every taken private property through the use of eminent domain and turned it over to another private developer or private property owner.”

Mike Ragsdale, “Not to my knowledge and not certainly during our administration.”

Don Bosch, “And so Steve I want to direct this to you, this is one of the things I have heard you speak a lot about and I think it a bit of a tempest in a teapot in our community because I have followed this very carefully and I just can’t find any use or abuse of eminent domain as it relates to taking private property, certainly from the County standpoint and giving it to another private property owner. Why is this an issue here?”

Steve Hall, “Well, I tell you what the issue is, Rex Davis had a piece of property over here on Leslie Street, the Turner’s had a piece of property a piece of property right across the street. Was eminent domain used? No. But what you have is the heavy hand of City government coming in and saying hey were going to take this property, you make the best deal, you are going to deal with us now, or you can sue us. That’s fine to say you can sue people if you are an attorney, but when you talk to the Turners they said we will give you $120 thousand dollars and they [the City] actually told them you can go to court and get another $50 or $60 thousand dollars. But an attorney would end up with most of it.”

Don Bosch, “What did they do with that property”?

Steve Hall, “They say they are going to build a Food City, but it is still sitting there pretty vacant, they tore down the buildings down.”

Don Bosch, “But again, they sold it, as you say it, through a heavy handed negation, but none the less they sold it of their own volition with out being forced.”

Steve Hall, “Yes, but they were making a deal with the proverbial gun to their head. They didn’t want to.”

Don Bosch, “But Steve again, they weren’t forced, they made a deal, and they had rights and options within the law, what I said last week, is on eminent domain one of the great things is that if you don’t agree with what the government takes your property for you get the right to a jury trial with 12 citizens in that box who generally don’t the idea of eminent domain as none of us do. And you get to your case heard. I represent people that have their property taken.

Steve Hall, “You still lose your property.”

Don Bosch, “Potentially. Yes that is correct”.

Steve Hall, “Do you know of any case where they didn’t lose their property? Where they got their property back?”

Don Bosch, “I actually can tell you of cases where governments have not taken the property because they did not want to litigate or fight the issue of whether they could take it or not. That has occurred several times in the past City administration when Victor Ashe was Mayor.”

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Joe Fowlkes holds Tennessee eminent domain reform hostage


The 120-day moratorium on private property to private citizen eminent domain (Kelo ED) failed in a 3 to 3 tie vote, meaning it failed under House rules. You can thank House Judiciary Chairman Joe Fowlkes, D-Cornersville, for this and the removal of over 58 other eminent domain bills.

Is there anything left of all of the work done on eminent domain reform? Yes, one bill authored by Joe Fowlkes, House Bill 3450, which weakens existing protection for farmers facing the threat of eminent domain. Called the "framework" bill this is supposed to provide protection for farmers but it does just the opposite.

Who supports House Bill 3450? The Tennessee Municipal League (TML) and oddly the Farm Bureau. Judiciary Chairman Joe Fowlkes says that, "not everybody is happy with everything" in the bill, but the measure represents a compromise with general support." Actually, that is not true. The simple truth is that the bill favors the TML and obviously has not been studied by the Farm Bureau. It is an anti-farm bill that takes away existing protection for farmers and replaces those protections with an easy scheme to take farmland.

Rep. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, said, "the Fowlkes bill could reduce the rights of property owners rather than increase them." Campfield also said it was unfair for the House subcommittee to scrap all other eminent domain bills, leaving the Fowlkes measure as the only vehicle for changing the law. At least 59 bills have been filed on eminent domain.

In the Tom Humphrey article in the Knoxville News Sentinel on March 17th TML Executive Director Margaret Mahery shared the TML viewpoint:

Tennessee Municipal League Executive Director Margaret Mahery said it goes too far in restricting local governments.

TML still believes no changes are needed in state law because it would already prohibit the type of situation that was used to condemn land under Connecticut law in the Kelo case, she said.

"We are not in on the consensus," said Mahery, referring to Fowlkes' bill. "We believe that our local governments use eminent domain very judiciously and very cautiously.


"Our cities do everything they can to negotiate with property owners," she said. "But when that runs its course and we cannot come to an agreement, we need to have eminent domain in our tool kit."


Mahery said, for example, that forbidding a city from using eminent domain outside its urban growth area could negatively impact city-county partnerships in an industrial development.


Why should one man, Joe Fowlkes, stop 58 bills for Tennessee State reform of the abusive Federal Supreme Court Kelo eminent domain law? Does this man have that much power? Because if he does then the farmers in this state need to find someone else to serve that state district.

You have to wonder why so many Democrats want to see a new representative in Rep. Campfield's district. Is it because he has been the leader in fighting for Kelo eminent domain reform?

What should the farmers of Tennessee do with the Tennessee Farm Bureau?


developing...

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Lonzo Stephens story

In September 2002, the Knoxville Community Development Corp. (KCDC) condemned three properties for the Stephens Square retail redevelopment. Before KCDC took his land, Alfred Nance had planned to build a youth center on his property and had already obtained the building permits. KCDC also condemned a property that Lonzo Stephens had previously leased to several small businesses. The owners of those businesses are the very ones partnering with KCDC on the Stephens Square project. With the City’s help, they managed to swipe the property from their former landlord, who loses not only the property itself but also the income he derived from his tenants.

Property owners upset at acquisition process

By Ed Marcum, News-Sentinel staff writerSeptember 23, 2002


The HOPE VI project is moving forward, but it seems to be leaving some raw feelings in its wake.

A number of property owners say they are not happy with the way Knoxville's Community Development Corp., charged with overseeing the project, has acquired properties through eminent domain rather than work through owners to develop the sites.


"You don't start a project by taking somebody's property and giving it to somebody else," said Alfred Nance, who owns property at 1504 University Ave.

Nance had planned to open a youth center on the site. He had even gotten a building permit, but KCDC, which is handling redevelopment efforts for the city under HOPE VI, has condemned the property to use it for its Stephens Square project.

Another property owner, Lonzo Stephens, says KCDC is trying to condemn his property on University Avenue and replace it with a project that will house businesses that had been leasing from him.

Stephens said he will lose not only his property, but also the income he has been making from renters.

Stephens Square is named not for Lonzo Stephens but for Harold Stephens, owner of Harold J's Barber Shop. Other partners in Stephens Square include Gary Gamble, owner of Gams Barber Shop, and Michael Scrugg, owner of M&M Cafe. Gamble and Scrugg were Lonzo Stephens' renters. The three business owners are partnering with KCDC to develop Stephens Square.


The project came about at least partly as a way to address neighborhood concerns that HOPE VI, as KCDC President and CEO Alvin Nance - no relation to Alfred Nance - said in a letter to U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., was displacing black-owned businesses.


However, Stephens Square would be built on the properties owned by Lonzo Stephens and Alfred Nance, and their attorney, Robert Haws, said KCDC has been playing hardball with his clients in order to get it.

The agency notified Stephens and Nance their properties were in an area designated for redevelopment as part of HOPE VI, and that, while it would like to acquire the properties at fair-market value, it would try to acquire them through eminent domain if an agreement wasn't reached.

Haws said his clients signed agreed orders with KCDC relinquishing their rights to the properties after KCDC indicated it would negotiate a price for them after this was done. However, KCDC has not budged from the amounts it has offered based on appraisals it had commissioned, he said.

"They've made no effort toward anything with my people except a slapjack upside the head," he said.

Also, KCDC sent Lonzo Stephens a notice warning him not to collect rent from any tenants as he had relinquished rights to his property.

Haws represents Stephens on properties at 1525 and 1518 University Ave. and 115 Douglas St. and represents Nance on his property at 1504 University Ave.

Appraisals commissioned by KCDC set the value of Stephens' University Avenue properties at $47,000, the property at 115 Douglas at $35,000 and Nance's property at 1504 University at $18,000.

Appraisals done by the owners valued the University Avenue properties at $63,500 and 115 Douglas at $46,000. Nance has not had an appraisal done on his property.

At a condemnation hearing in Knox County Circuit Court on Aug. 30, Haws' clients asked for a 30-day postponement to get Nance's property appraised and get new appraisals on Stephens' property. The court would only allow 15 days, which Haws said was very little time to do the appraisals.

Alfred Nance said he was going to apply for Empowerment Zone funds to do his project, but KCDC took all such funds available to the neighborhood for its Stephens Square proposal.

"Small-business owners are not given the opportunity to develop their own projects under HOPE VI," he said.


In his written response to Duncan, Alvin Nance said the building owned by Alfred Nance has been vacant for more than 10 years, and its owner has been aware of efforts to revitalize Mechanicsville since 1997. Alfred Nance has had plenty of time to do his project, Alvin Nance said. He also said the community center is not needed because Wesley House and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Knoxville already have facilities to fill that need in Mechanicsville.

Dan Tiller, KCDC chief development officer, said the properties owned by Nance and Stephens have been blighted for some time. Alfred Nance's building has a tree growing inside it, he said. KCDC made attempts to negotiate prices on the properties, but agreements could not be reached, so condemnation proceedings began, Tiller said.


Told that Alfred Nance had a building permit and a design drawn for his center, Tiller said officials still are not convinced Nance intends to follow through.

"We've been hearing that for the better part of three years," Tiller said.

Asked why KCDC could not have worked with the original property owners, Alvin Nance said that is because KCDC would have to buy the properties in order to use Empowerment Zone funds on them.

"Empowerment Zone funds are public money," Alvin Nance said. "We cannot spend them on privately held property. That's why those properties are being acquired."

To do Stephens Square with Empowerment Zone funds, KCDC has to buy the property, build the project, and then sell it to the new owners, Nance said.

This is not fair to the original property owner and stifles the ability of people to develop their own property, said Alfred Nance, who is chair of the HOPE VI advisory committee. He said the committee has tried to deal with KCDC on this issue but without success. He also said there are other dissatisfied property owners.

Emanuel Bailey is one. He owns property at 1513 and 1515 University Ave., across the street from the proposed Stephens Square. Bailey said KCDC is trying to acquire it for a residential project, but the property is commercial, and KCDC won't offer to pay him what it is worth.

KCDC is pursuing condemnation to get the property, and Bailey is challenging that in court. Alvin Nance said he wouldn't comment on the matter because it is in litigation. A hearing is set in Circuit Court for Thursday, Sept. 26.


In its court filings, KCDC is seeking to acquire the property for $19,500 and asks the court to order Bailey to pay $863 to the city in back taxes. Bailey is pursuing a counter suit, challenging KCDC's right to condemn the property and saying it is worth as much as $150,000.

His properties had three businesses in them before the conflict with KCDC, and now they are gone, Bailey said. A computer company moved out, and a laundry and a private club dissolved, he said.


Bailey said merchants who had formed the Mechanicsville Development Corp. had hopes of working with KCDC on redevelopment.

"We had a development corporation going and were trying to represent our interests. We wanted to do some joint planning with KCDC, but we didn't get anywhere," he said.

Alvin Nance denies that KCDC has been heavy-handed in dealing with the property owners.

"In any redevelopment area, we have the authority to use eminent domain. We do not go in with the understanding that it will be done by condemnation, though. We notify them and attempt to negotiate with them," he said.


The neighborhood ultimately will benefit through projects such as Stephens Square, Alvin Nance said.

"There were three African-American businesses that were there when KCDC arrived. When we are finished, they will still be there, plus there will be additional retail space, so I think we have left the community in a better position," he said.

He estimates Stephens Square will create up to 12 new jobs.

"Part of our HOPE VI plan is to generate commercial growth, and we are taking property that has been under-utilized and developing it," Alvin Nance said.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The controversy about the Knoxville Community Development Corporation

Monday March 6th the Rosemond Turner family of Knoxville traveled to Nashville to speak to State legislators about the Knoxville Community Development Corporation (KCDC) and to tell their story of how the KCDC, with the desire to purchase the Turner family business property, began threats of impending condemnation in what the City of Knoxville later called a "negotiation". "It was a negotiated sale," said Knoxville spokeswoman Margie Nichols. "They weren't forced out."

The Turner family did not have an opportunity in Nashville to tell their story but they may speak next week to news organizations in Knoxville.

The controversy about the Knoxville Community Development Corporation is whether the tactics used to secure the Turner property and other properties were legal or moral. The Turner family originally told the KCDC they were not interested in selling their property where they owned a demolition business that was started in the 1940's. The Turner's allege they were threatened with condemnation and had to sell their property to the City of Knoxville for much less than what the property was worth. Mayor Bill Haslam was quoted in Nashville as saying that claims of eminent domain being misused in Knoxville are mistaken. "I can tell you categorically that's not true," said the Mayor.

But there is a problem with the Mayor's statement. Mayor Bill Haslam was a commissioner on the KCDC Board before he was elected Mayor of Knoxville in 2003. The Chairman of the Board at KCDC at that time was Bill Lyons, considered by some to be the Mayor Haslam's right hand man. Bill Lyons is currently Senior Director of Policy Development in the Haslam administration.

The March 9th Metro Pulse has an unsigned editorial that says, "especially with the assurances he and his colleagues—if many of them are willing to call themselves colleagues—have received from Knoxville’s Mayor Bill Haslam that there are no cases of eminent domain imminent in Knoxville and that the practice has not been misused or abused in the city. Likely, Mike Ragsdale, the Knox County mayor, would concur with Haslam’s assurances."

Basically the Metro Pulse editorial is expanding the comment that "no harm" has been done by the KCDC to the County Mayor Mike Ragsdale. The owner and publisher of the Metro Pulse is Brian Conley who writes many of the unsigned editorials. He is also the owner of Cardinal Construction Company, which did the 8 million dollar Market Square redevelopment project and is starting the Candy Factory redevelopment project at the World's Fair Site with partner Jon Kinsey, the former Mayor of Chattanooga.

Yet great harm has been done by the KCDC. Take the case of Alfred Nance. Nance owned property at 1504 University Ave. and he had planned to build a youth center. He had secured permits from the City of Knoxville to begin construction. Nance experienced the same "negotiation" from the City of Knoxville that the Turner's would later go through. The City approached him to purchase his property but quickly moved to threats of condemnation. By September of 2002 Alfred Nance's property had been acquired by the KCDC. Nance had written a letter to U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., and told how the KCDC was displacing black-owned businesses. Duncan had requested a response from KCDC President Alvin Nance after Alfred Nance approached Duncan on the issue.

The Alfred Nance story does not end there. Despondent and frustrated, on March 1, 2005 Alfred Nance had a breakdown.

As reported by WATE news,

"Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk says it began about 3:00 a.m. when the suspect's elderly mother called 911 from the house he shares with her at 1500 Exeter Avenue. She said her son, 57-year-old Alfred Nance, had fired a gun.

Gunshots also greeted the first officers at the scene so the police department brought in its special operations squad.

No one was hit and police helped Nance's mother escape. "She was in a bedroom. Fortunately, it was a first floor bedroom," DeBusk says. "We were able to get her out through the window.

Negotiators tried talking Nance out of the house by phone. "That was met with limited success," DeBusk says. "Sometimes he would take the phone off the hook
for extended periods of time. To try to keep communication open, we used a vehicle to get in close to the house and we used the PA system to communicate with him."

As the standoff entered its fourth hour, Knox County school officials sent additional security people to Maynard Elementary School, about 200 yards from the house, and locked the perimeter doors.

Nance is a teacher on a voluntary leave of absence from Maynard. His leave began in October 2004.



So how can anyone make the statement that the KCDC has done no harm? Who served on the KCDC board when Alfred Nance's property was taken from him? KCDC commissioner Bill Haslam and KCDC Chairman Bill Lyons.

Next the story of Lonzo Stephens.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The hypocrisy of pure politics

In the Sunday 3/05/06 Knoxville News Sentinel an article by Tom Humphrey reports on the efforts of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Fowlkes, D-Pulaski, to defeat a 120-day moratorium on the taking of private property and its transfer to other private citizens. This is commonly called Kelo Confiscations.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Fowlkes, who is also the Vice Chairman of the Eminent Domain Committee, was quoted in the News Sentinel as saying that the 120-day moratorium, sponsored by State District 18 Representative Stacey Campfield of Knoxville, is a move to protect Mark Saroff, owner of McClung Warehouses on Jackson Avenue in Knoxville, in an ongoing dispute with the Knoxville Community Development Corp.

Fowlkes said, "He's trying to decide a lawsuit that hasn't even been filed yet," said Fowlkes, an attorney. "That's not the Legislature's business. That's the business of the judicial system." Is this another example of a shrewd politician "passing the buck"? Mayor Bill Haslam of Knoxville has often mentioned that once a development zone is voted on by Knoxville City Council that neither he or Council can control or influence what KCDC will vote on. A perfect world of plausible deniability.

Margaret Mahery, executive director of the Tennessee Municipal League, said, "Kelo has zero bearing on the laws in Tennessee." Ms. Mahery is a supporter of Mr. Fowlkes. I suggest Ms. Mahery read House Bill 3450, referred to as the framework bill and also sometimes referred to as the "Farm Bureau" bill. There is a separate post showing House Bill 3450 in its entirety.

Senate Bill 3296 and House Bill 3450 is simply a wolf in sheep's clothing. The stated purpose of the bill is too provide more protection against Kelo Confiscations for farmers but in reality this bill takes away the existing protections already specified in the Tennessee Code Annotated. With the pure hypocrisy of politics House Judiciary Committee Chairman Fowlkes alleges the 120-day moratorium against Kelo confiscations is supposedly a favor for a friend.

In fact the House Bill 3450 authored by Representative Joe Fowlkes and supported by both the Tennessee Municipal League and the Tennessee Farm Bureau is a gift to both developers and municipalities at the expense of private owners of farms.

Fowlkes said of the 120-day moratorium bill, "the move is unnecessary and could have unintended consequences." Yet has Fowlkes has crafted House Bill 3450 which has "intended" consequences?

House Bill 3450 states:

2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 13­20­201, is amended by
adding a new subsection (c) as follows:


(c) Under no circumstances shall land used predominantly in the production of agriculture, as defined by §1­3­105, be considered a blighted area. SECTION 3. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 13­16­207, is amended by adding a new subsection (e) as follows:


(e) A city or county may exercise the power of eminent domain for development of an industrial park only with respect to property located within the jurisdictional boundaries of the city or county; or in the case of a city, also with respect to property within an urban growth boundary as defined in §6­58­101, or in the case of a county, also with respect to property within an urban growth boundary or planned growth area as defined in §6­58­101. Before a city or county may undertake to exercise the power of eminent domain for development of an industrial park, it must obtain a certificate of public purpose and necessity as provided in subsection (a) even if no funds will be borrowed for the project.

So all that needs to happen to confiscate a farm is to grant a "certificate of public purpose" and the farm that was once protected under the provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated, which states, "Under no circumstances shall land used predominantly in the production of agriculture, as defined by §1­3­105, be considered a blighted area."

This is a serious issue. Some sponsors of House Bill 3450 have removed their names for the bill because of this blatant hypocrisy. Property rights are not a partisan issue. They are a moral issue. Why has the Tennessee Municipal League and the Farm Bureau strayed from their roots and decided to support an anti-farm anti-property rights House Bill?

The real story is whether any real legislation on Kelo Confiscations can be created in the State of Tennessee when Joe Fowlkes has so much power.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

House Bill 3450 from Joe Fowlkes D-Pulaski,

Filed for intro on 02/23/2006

SENATE BILL 3296 By Jackson

HOUSE BILL 3450 By Fowlkes

AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 1; Title 6; Title 7; Title 11; Title 12; Title 13; Title 29; Title 43; Title 49; Title 54; Title 64; Title 65; Title 68 and Title 69, relative to the power and use of eminent domain and property acquired by eminent domain.

WHEREAS, the general assembly takes notice of and reaffirms the rights guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States, and by Article I, §21 of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee, of an individual to privately own property and for such property to be free from condemnation and taking by the government, and political subdivisions thereof, through the power of eminent domain unless the taking is for a public use and accompanied by just compensation; and

WHEREAS, it is the intent of the general assembly that private property shall not be condemned or taken through the power of eminent domain by the state of Tennessee or any county, municipality, housing authority, industrial development board, any other governmental subdivision or entity or by any person authorized by the general assembly to exercise the power of eminent domain unless in accordance with such provisions of the United States Constitution, the Tennessee Constitution, and the provisions of this act; now therefore, BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:

SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 29, Chapter 17, is amended by adding the following as a new part to be designated as part 1 and renumbering existing parts accordingly:
§29­17­101. It is the intent of the general assembly that the power of eminent domain shall be used sparingly, and that laws permitting the use of
HB345001439729­1
­
eminent domain shall be narrowly construed so as not to enlarge by inference or inadvertently the power of eminent domain.

§29­17­102. As used in this part, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) “Eminent domain” means the authority conferred upon the government, and those entities to whom the government delegates such authority, to condemn and take, in whole or in part, the private property of another so long as such property is taken for a legitimate public use and is accompanied by the payment of just compensation;

(b) "Public use" shall not include either private use or benefit or the indirect public benefits resulting from private economic development and private commercial enterprise, including increased tax revenue and increased employment opportunity, except as follows:

(1) The acquisition of any interest in land necessary to the function of a public or private utility, common carrier, or other entity authorized to exercise the power of eminent domain under Title 65;

(2) The acquisition of property by a housing authority or community development agency to remove blight as authorized by Title 13, Chapter 20, Part 2;

(3) Private use that is merely incidental to a public use, so long as no land is condemned or taken solely for the purpose of conveying or permitting such incidental private use; or

(4) The acquisition of property by a county, city, or town for an industrial park as authorized by Title 13, Chapter 16, Part 2.

§29­17­103. In event of a conflict between this part and any other statutes granting the authority to use the power of eminent domain by government entities, or those entities to whom the government delegates such authority, this part shall control and shall be construed to protect the private property rights of individuals and businesses such that private property may only be condemned and taken for legitimate public use as defined herein. SECTION 2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 13­20­201, is amended by

adding a new subsection (c) as follows:

(c) Under no circumstances shall land used predominantly in the production of agriculture, as defined by §1­3­105, be considered a blighted area. SECTION 3. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 13­16­207, is amended by

adding a new subsection (e) as follows:

(e) A city or county may exercise the power of eminent domain for development of an industrial park only with respect to property located within the jurisdictional boundaries of the city or county; or in the case of a city, also with respect to property within an urban growth boundary as defined in §6­58­101, or in the case of a county, also with respect to property within an urban growth boundary or planned growth area as defined in §6­58­101. Before a city or county may undertake to exercise the power of eminent domain for development of an industrial park, it must obtain a certificate of public purpose and necessity as provided in subsection (a) even if no funds will be borrowed for the project, except:

(1) The requirements of subdivision (a)(1)(A)(iv) are not applicable to a certificate of public purpose and necessity obtained solely for the exercise of eminent domain authority; and

(2) A certificate of public purpose and necessity for the exercise of eminent domain, in addition to the applicable findings set forth in subdivision (a)(1)(A), shall be based on a finding that the city or county has been unable to acquire through good faith negotiations the property to be acquired by eminent domain or any alternative property that would be of comparable suitability for the project. Good faith negotiations shall be established if the city or county has made an offer to purchase the property for an amount equal to or in excess of the fair market value determined by the average of at least two (2) appraisals by independent, qualified appraisers.

SECTION 4. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 29, Chapter 17, Part 12, is amended by adding the following as a new section:

§29­17­1203. Land acquired by eminent domain that the acquiring entity seeks to dispose of may be sold, leased or otherwise transferred to another public or quasi­public entity or to a private person, corporation or other entity provided the entity transferring the land receives at least fair market value for such land. SECTION 5. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 64­1­102, is amended by deleting

subsection (a)(6) and substituting instead the following:

(6) May acquire by purchase, lease, or gift, property of any kind, real, personal or mixed, or any interest therein, that the board deems necessary to the exercise of its powers or functions; SECTION 6. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 64­1­603, is amended by deleting subdivision (3) in its entirety and substituting instead the following:

(3) Acquire by purchase, lease, gift, or in any manner other than by condemnation, property of any kind, real, personal or mixed, or any interest therein, that the board deems necessary or convenient to the exercise of its powers or functions; and SECTION 7. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 64­1­804, is amended by deleting subsection (a)(6) and substituting instead the following:

(6) May acquire by purchase, lease, or gift, property of any kind, real, personal or mixed, or any interest therein, that the board deems necessary to the exercise of its powers or functions; SECTION 8. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 64­1­805, is amended by deleting the section in its entirety. SECTION 9. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 64­1­204, is amended by deleting item (15) in its entirety. SECTION 10. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 64­1­1004, is amended by deleting item (6) and substituting instead the following:

(6) May, if funds are available, acquire by purchase, lease, or gift, property of any kind, real, or any interest therein, that the board deems necessary to the exercise of its powers or functions; SECTION 11. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 64­1­1005, is amended by deleting the section in its entirety. SECTION 12. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 64­1­1103, is amended by deleting item (14) in its entirety. SECTION 13. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 64­1­503, is amended by deleting item (14) and substituting instead the following:

(6) Acquire by purchase, lease, or gift, such real and personal property or any interest therein, as the board deems necessary or convenient in carrying out the purposes of this part; and SECTION 14. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 64­4­106, is amended by deleting the section and substituting instead the following:

Any one (1) of the participating counties, Decatur, Hardin, Perry and Wayne, upon the written recommendation of the port authority commissioners, may acquire any interest in land within the boundaries of the county by gift, purchase, or lease and may transfer such interest to the authority by sale, lease or gift. Such transfer may be authorized by resolution of the governing body of the county without submission of the question to the voters and without regard to the requirements, restrictions or other provisions contained in any other general, special or local law. SECTION 15. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 54­11­302, is amended by deleting the section in its entirety. SECTION 16. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 11, Chapter 22, Part 1, is amended by deleting the part in its entirety and substituting instead the following:

§11­22­101. The legislative body of any county is authorized to acquire by gift or purchase, any natural lakes or lands suitable for the construction of lakes, and to hold fee simple title in the name of the county. SECTION 17. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 11­24­102, is amended by deleting the section in its entirety and substituting instead the following.

§11­24­102. The governing body of any city or town, or county, or any school district, may dedicate and set apart for use as playgrounds, recreation centers, and other recreational purposes, any lands or buildings, or both, owned or leased by such municipality and not dedicated or devoted to another and inconsistent public use, and such municipality may lease lands or buildings, or both, for such recreational purposes,

or the governing body of any such municipality is hereby empowered to acquire lands or
buildings, or both, for such purposes by gift or purchase.

SECTION 18. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 29­17­801, is amended by deleting subsection (a)(2), as it existed on June 30, 2006, in its entirety.

SECTION 19. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 69­6­118, is amended by deleting subsection (a)(9) and substituting instead the following:

(9) Acquire land, or any interest in land, including leasehold interests, by gift, or purchase; SECTION 20. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 43, Chapter 23, Part 1, is amended by
deleting the part in its entirety.

SECTION 21. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 65, Chapter 18, Part 1, is amended by deleting §§ 65­18­101 and 65­18­102 in their entirety and substituting instead the following:

§ 65­18­102. Incline railroad corporations are authorized to adopt such gauge as it may prefer. SECTION 22. This act shall take effect July 1, 2000, the public welfare requiring it.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Kelo Confiscation in Knoxville

To: Board of Commissioners of Knoxville's Community Development Corporation

From: Dan Tiller, Chief Development Officer

Re: Redevelopment Proposals for 501, 505, 514, 519 and 523 Jackson Avenue


Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation ("KCDC") has prepared, and the City Council of the City of Knoxville has approved, the Jackson/Depot Redevelopment and Urban Renewal Plan (the "Plan"). Pursuant to the Plan, KCDC identified certain blighted properties located in the Plan area. Those blighted properties included properties located at 501, 505, 514, 519 and 523 Jackson Avenue (the "Jackson Avenue Properties"). Following such identification, KCDC issued a request for proposals from the owners of such b1ighted properties to redevelop those properties. In June, 2003, Mark Saroff and Michael Thomas Bruce, as CEO/Vice President of Infinity Design Builders, Inc. (collectively, the "Developer") submitted proposals to redevelop the Jackson Avenue Properties. Those proposals were reviewed by KCDC's staff and the Advisory Committee that was formed to advise KCDC regarding the implementation of the- Plan. In response to the Advisory Committee's recommendation that the Developers proposals not be approved, the Developer subsequently submitted updates to its proposals relating to these properties on November 18,2005. (1)

In the Developers proposals, as updated, the Developer proposes to demolish the building located at 523 Jackson Avenue and to use that location as a parking area. The Developer also proposes to make relatively minor improvements to the buildings located at 501, 505 and 519 Jackson Avenue to help preserve those buildings and address the poor visual condition of the buildings. Finally, the Developer proposes to use the building at 514 Jackson Avenue as a staging area for construction relating to the Deve1oper's other renovation projects.

In submitting its proposals, the Developer has apparently misinterpreted what constitutes blight under the Plan and under applicable law. The Developer's updated proposals with respect to the properties located at 501, 505 and 519 only address the cosmetic elements of blight, being the dilapidated and obsolete appearance of the structures. Blight, within the meaning of the Plan, also includes deleterious land use and other factors. If the buildings that are located at 501, 505, 514 and 519 Jackson Avenue continue to be largely vacant and underutilized, these conditions will continue to be deleterious to the revitalization of the Jackson/Depot area that is the subject of the Plan and to the improvement of Knoxville's downtown area. Properties such as these will no longer be blighted within the meaning of the statute and the Plan only when such properties are redeveloped for productive uses that compliment the revitalization of the area. Based upon its initial proposals, the Developer intends to redevelop these properties for residential and commercial uses, but the Developer's current proposals, as updated, provide no timeline for doing so.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Plan, the Developer’s proposals are to be submitted to KCDC's Board of Commissioners for its approval or disapproval after submission to the Advisory Committee. As was noted above, the Advisory Committee recommended that the Developer's proposals not be approved and requested the Developer to provide additional information. KCDC's staff has also reviewed the Developer's proposals, together, with the additional updated proposals submitted by the

(1) This submission was one day later than the November 17, 2005 deadline established by the Advisory Committee.


Developer. KCDC's staff would also recommend that the proposals not be approved by KCDC's Board of Commissioners. The following sets forth the specific reasons why KCDC's staff would recommend that the proposals not be approved.

With respect to the Developer's proposal as to the properties located at 501, 505 and 519 Jackson Avenue, the following are the specific reasons why KCDC's staff would recommend that that proposal not be approved by the Board:

1. The proposal, as updated, does not provide for the comprehensive redevelopment of the properties in order to address the deleterious land use and other blighted conditions existing at those properties. In connection therewith, the proposal does not provide adequate budgetary information, timelines as to redevelopment, architectural renderings and other pertinent information that would be needed for KCDC to evaluate meaningfully whether the blighted conditions at the properties will ultimately be abated.

2. The proposal, as updated, does not provide adequate budgetary information for KCDC's staff to evaluate whether even the relatively minor improvements proposed by the Developer are financially feasible. Based on KCDC's experience with prior redevelopment projects, KCDC staff would question whether the minor improvements that the Developer proposes to undertake can be completed for the amounts budgeted. Independent verification of the estimated costs would be appropriate in these circumstances.

3. The Developer has failed to provide information to demonstrate its financial ability to complete even the minor renovations that the Developer proposes in its updated proposal. The Developer has stated a willingness to provide such information with respect to the renovations proposed in its updated proposal but has failed to do so to date.

With respect to the Developer's proposal as to the properties located at 514 Jackson Avenue, the following are the specific reasons why KCDC's staff would recommend that that proposal not be approved by the Board:

1. The proposal, as updated, does not provide for the comprehensive redevelopment of the property in order to address the deleterious land use and other blighted conditions existing at that property. In connection therewith, the proposal does not provide adequate budgetary information, timelines as to redevelopment, architectural renderings and other pertinent information that would be needed for KCDC to evaluate meaningfully whether the blighted conditions at the properties will ultimately be abated.

2. The proposal, as updated, does not address even the visual conditions of blight present at the property.

3. The Developer has failed to provide information to demonstrate its financial ability to complete any renovations proposed to the property. The Developer has stated a willingness to provide such information with respect to the renovations proposed in its updated proposals but has failed to do so to date.

With respect to the Developer's proposal as to the properties located at 523 Jackson Avenue, the following are the specific reasons why KCDC's staff would recommend that that proposal not be approved by the Board:

1. The proposal, as updated, does not provide adequate budgetary information for KCDC's staff to evaluate whether the Developer's proposed improvements are financially feasible. Based on KCDC's experience with prior redevelopment projects, KCDC staff would question whether the paving and landscaping proposed by the Developer can be undertaken for the amounts budgeted. Independent verification of the estimated costs could be appropriate in these circumstances.

2. The Developer's proposal does not include a proposed site plan so that KCDC can determine that the proposed parking area will be conducive to the overall redevelopment of the Plan area.

3. The Developer has failed to provide information to demonstrate its financial ability to complete the demolition and paving work that is proposed by the Developer. The Developer has stated a willingness to provide such information in its updated proposals but has failed to do so to date.

Although KCDC's staff does not believe that the Developer's proposals are adequately responsive to KCDC's request for proposals and are not in compliance with the Plan for the specific reasons stated above, KCDC's staff also recognizes that this particular Developer owns some of the largest buildings in the redevelopment area and that the redevelopment of the Developer's properties presents some unique challenges. In submitting its most updated proposals, the Developer has indicated that it desires to take a two-step approach to the redevelopment of its properties. The Developer apparently intends to first make certain basic improvements to preserve the properties and mitigate visual dilapidation until further redevelopment is undertaken.

While KCDC's staff does not believe that the Developer's updated proposals adequately provide for the rehabilitation work that is needed to preserve the properties and to address the visual dilapidation of the structures on the properties, KCDC's staff does not object in concept to the Developer redeveloping the property in two stages. Therefore, KCDC's staff would recommend that the Developer be permitted to revise its redevelopment proposal to provide for the prompt rehabilitation of the properties in a sufficient manner to preserve the properties and to mitigate the visual dilapidation of the properties. With respect to the properties located at 501, 505, and 519 Jackson Avenue, such a proposal, in the judgment of KCDC's staff, should, at a minimum, provide for the repair of all masonry deterioration, the replacement of all broken windows, the replacement of the roofs on the buildings to the extent needed to preserve the buildings, the removal of any trash and overgrowth on the properties and the correction of any structural defects in the buildings. If the Developer chooses to take this approach, KCDC's staff would recommend that the Developer be required to provide a report of an independent structural engineer as to the structural integrity of the buildings and to correct any structural deficiencies. With respect to the property located at 514 Jackson Avenue, a proposal as to initial rehabilitation work, in the judgment of KCDC's staff, should, at a minimum, provide for the repair of masonry deterioration, the replacement of broken windows, the removal of any trash and overgrowth at that location and the correction of any structural defects in the existing structure. Such a two-stage approach would not be appropriate with respect to the property located at 523 Jackson Avenue as the Developer has proposed the immediate demolition of the structure located at that address and the development of a parking area at that location. While the Developer's existing updated proposals address some of the redevelopment activities that would be required for the initial abatement of certain conditions of blight, a number of issues are not addressed in those updated proposals.

If the Developer decides to submit revised proposals to undertake the redevelopment of the properties located at 501, 505, 514, and 519 Jackson Avenue in a staged manner, KCDC's staff would strongly recommend that the Developer be required to agree to a specific time frame in which to submit proposals for the comprehensive redevelopment of those properties, The ultimate redevelopment of these properties for productive uses is necessary to rectify the blighted conditions that these properties present.

The Developer should also be made aware that KCDC has no authority with respect to the issuance of permits and other governmental approvals that may be needed in connection with its redevelopment activities. If the Developer desires to undertake its redevelopment activities in a two-stage process, the Developer should confirm directly with the appropriate governmental authorities that such an approach would be acceptable under applicable building codes and other municipal and state laws and regulations.