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2003-09-28
Alabaster, AL. City Sued for Using Eminent Domain to Help Wal-Mart Superstore.

City Officials in Alabaster, Alabama have slammed into a "Wal" of opposition to a Wal-Mart supercenter -- especially over the potential use of eminent domain to force homeowners to sell out to the giant retailer. According to the Brimingham News, the city's lawyer claims Alabaster is not trying to condemn residential homes to make way for a Wal-Mart. The city is trying to convince a judge to dismiss a federal lawsuit that seeks to prevent the city from declaring the 10 acres in question as being blighted. Roughly 9 parcels are in dispute, part of a much larger 400 acre site that developer Colonial Properties Trust wants to turn into an 800,000 s.f. mall, with Wal-Mart as one of the key anchors. The city has announced that it wants to put up a "municipal complex" near the shopping center, and claims the city has the right to declare these nine parcels blighted for city redevelopment purposes. But Jim Pino, the lawyer representing six property owners whose homes are being condemned, told the News that the city is taking this land by eminent domain for a Wal-Mart project -- regardless of whether or not the actual building happens to sit on the 10 acre site or not. The lawsuit charges that the city has threatened the homeowners with coercive action if they don't sell their homes to the developer -- including threats to demolish the homes with bulldozers. The city says there's no truth to that charge, and says "we're going to work with these homeowners if they're seriously interested in selling their property." The city complains that it has received "undue publicity" over this case. The eminent domain controversy has been featured prominently on the radio talk show of Neal Boortz, who called the city's actions in Alabaster a "government assault on property rights." City councilman Tommy Ryals has been quoted by Boortz as saying "Sometimes the good of the many has to outweigh the greed of the few." Boortz is now trying to help Attorney Pino raise money for the federal lawsuit to block condemnation of the properties.

What you can do: Wal-Mart has frequently gotten mired in controversy over these forms of public subsidies or special public deals for private gain. For another example of condemnation of an entire neighborhood for Wal-Mart, search this database by "Maplewood". For more info on the Alabaster lawsuit, contact: jcpalalaw@aol.com










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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