(Editor's Note: The following is the 12th of 100 stories regarding government regulation from the book Shattered Dreams, written by the National Center for Public Policy Research. CNSNews.com will publish an additional story each day.)
Bailey's Brake Service is a successful family-owned business that has been at the corner of Country Club Drive and Main Street in Mesa, Arizona for the 31 years. It may soon be gone. Mesa may force owner Randy Bailey to sell the city the property at a price it determines so the city can sell the land to another private owner.
Bailey's shop is surrounded by open land and empty buildings, prompting Mesa's redevelopment director, Greg Marek, to declare the area "blighted." The city government is seeking to redevelop the nearby downtown area. As Marek told the Arizona Business Gazette: "One of our goals is to eliminate unsightly, substandard and obsolete uses that can't be rehabilitated."
But Bailey claims that Ken Lenhart, the owner of an Ace Hardware store in Mesa, wrote to the Mesa City Council to ask it to take Bailey's property through the power of eminent domain so Lenhart could buy it and relocate his store there. Soon after receiving the letter, the City Council approved a measure to expand the redevelopment zone to include Bailey's property. Since then, Lenhart has purchased numerous parcels of land surrounding Bailey's Brake Service.
On April 29, 2002, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Myers ruled the city had the right to take the Bailey property, but stayed his own ruling two days later and prevented the city from taking the property until a special action was filed with the Court
of Appeals. Bailey challenged Judge Myers' ruling. On May 31, 2002, the Arizona Court of Appeals extended the period in which Bailey's property would remain untouched until after the appeals court issues its decision.
Legal experts working with Bailey point out that eminent domain powers allow the government to take property for the public good, but not to sell to another individual for
that individual's private gain.
Sources: Institute for Justice - Arizona Chapter, Arizona Business Gazette, Randy Bailey, Tim Keller
Copyright 2003, National Center for Public Policy Research