Under Wisconsin law, a private company can seize anyone’s property. Previously, eminent domain could be used only for projects that benefited the common good — hospitals, roads, schools, etc. — and only if the property owner and potential buyer could not agree on a fair price.
The Supreme Court Kelo decision in 2005 changed that. Since then, 12 states have amended their constitutions to ban eminent domain for private gain and provide more protections for property owners. But not Wisconsin.
Many landowners in our state and county have been in this situation. It’s likely to happen again when a Canadian company decides to construct more oil pipelines — for profit only, not the common good. The threat of eminent domain will be a hammer in the hands of the developer, severely limiting the bargaining power of the property owners.
The Columbia County Board of Supervisors will address this issue at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday in Portage. They will vote on an advisory resolution asking the state Legislature to change current eminent domain law, and protect the property rights of hardworking citizens.
Please contact your supervisor to show support for this resolution. Info on who your elected officials are can be found on myvote.wi.gov.
Mary Jo Wentz, Fall River