Fighting Land Takings in Ohio

June 3, 2002

By Joe Cornely
Director, Corporate Communications
Ohio Farm Bureau Federation
(614) 249-2479
from Buckeye Farm News

House Bill 449 is a proposal to remove the authority of local park districts
to take land via eminent domain.  OFBF testified in favor of the bill before
the House Local Government and Townships Committee.  The bill is sponsored by
Representative Tom Lendrum (R), Huron.

During testimony, OFBF Director of State Legislative Affairs, Scott Williams,
told lawmakers, "The protection of private property rights is the core
mission of the Ohio Farm Bureau, and the irresponsible use of eminent domain
authority is one of the greatest threats to a landowner."

Accountability is the issue according to Williams.  "These park boards
unelected. They're appointed by the Probate Court judge.  Landowners have no
recourse at the ballot box when these park boards use eminent domain

Williams' testimony further stated, "Rural landowners are constantly besieged
by eminent domain, from proposed pipelines, expansion of roadways, and the
creation of well fields.  House Bill 449 will simply eliminate one of the
many appropriation threats facing landowners.  While an eminent domain
proceeding is never pleasant, it is easier to understand when the project
results in a public good.  A dangerous section of roadway is widened and made
safer, a needed utility line is connected to a remote community, but when the
project is the creation of a bike trail, for purely recreational use, the
proceeding becomes harder to accept."

Williams' testimony also stated, "The taking of private property for public
use should always be a tool of last resort because  there are few things more
sacred than ownership of property and to deprive someone of that must be a
done in an appropriate manner.  I ask  (the Committee) to consider the
appropriateness of continuing to allow a non- elected, unaccountable body to
be permitted to remove private property from an individual's ownership when
they feel it is better used as a recreation center for the public.

Williams  pointed out that most park districts are "good actors" and work
well with local landowners.  He said the bill is necessary because of "4 or 5

The bill has come before lawmakers several times in the past.  Williams is
hopeful that it will receive more favorable attention this time due to a
change in the make-up of the House committee. 

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