"taking a stand for the rights of property"

“Taking a stand for the rights of property owners”

California is not the only state taking action to protect our personal property rights. The folloiwng article was received from one of my Castle Coalition colleagues that warrants this posting. Larry.

Friday, October 20, 2006

BY DAN MILLER

Of The Patriot-News

A citizens’ group hopes public pressure can restrain the use of eminent domain in Pennsylvania in the same way that a public outcry helped reverse the July 2005 legislative pay raise.

STOMP, short for Stop Taking Our Money and Property, held its first public rally yesterday at the Cramer Airport Parking property in Lower Swatara Twp. near Harrisburg International Airport.

The Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority, which owns HIA, has gone to court to take the 171/2-acre Cramer property by eminent domain.

Eminent domain is the power governments and some other entities have to seize private property for public uses or for what might be considered a greater public good.

Mike Folmer, a Republican candidate for the 48th District state Senate seat, was among several rally speakers who contended that the airport authority’s attempt to take the Cramer land doesn’t meet that standard.

“If this land is taken from Mr. Cramer, it will not benefit the public,” Folmer said.

Stanford and Lynn Cramer, the property owners, claim the authority’s goal is to get rid of them as a competitor for HIA parking services.

The authority says the Cramer land is essential for the airport to expand its air-freight service capability.

The state attorney general has joined the Cramers in fighting HIA in court. The attorney general says the authority’s attempt to take the land violates federal antitrust laws.

Russ Diamond, an activist who founded the recently dissolved PACleanSweep reform group, said the Cramer case is one of several recent examples of eminent domain abuse.

He pointed to Steelton, where private properties on North Front Street are at risk of being taken, and to the initial plans to build a federal courthouse in Harrisburg by demolishing Cumberland Court apartments.

“If today it’s Stan Cramer, than tomorrow it’s you,” Diamond said.

In July, Gov. Ed Rendell signed legislation that puts new limits on the use of eminent domain in Pennsylvania. That action followed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed a city in Connecticut to seize private property to support new private development.

“We need to take a better look at the laws we have,” Diamond said. “The public good has to be screaming in order to take any kind of private property. We ought to weigh the decision more in favor of private property.”

Steve and Joanne Artman of Lower Swatara Twp. were among about 75 people who showed up for the rally.

“I’m tired of them,” Joanne Artman said of the airport authority. “The big guys don’t take away from the big guys. They take away from the little guys.”

Steve Artman said the authority, instead of trying to take other people’s property, should devote more energy to getting airlines to offer flights at lower fares.

Note: Reprint authorized by Dan Miller, Patriot News, Harrisburg, PA/Larry Gilbert


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