Sunday, October 15, 2006

Chabot Bill Angers Many

Steve Chabot has introduced an important piece of legislation. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it's actually true. However, the bill isn't important because of the potential of public good, instead, it's important because, if passed, it could do horrible things to towns all over the country.

To top it off, Chabot admitted to the Enquirer that he doesn't even know the practical effect, once implemented, such a law would have.

Here's the Enquirer article:

Chabot property bill debated
Owners could contest local codes federally


A property-rights bill written by U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot - and recently passed by the U.S. House - would allow developers and other property owners to sue in federal court if local zoning regulations restrict the use of their property.

The bill expands the national debate over eminent domain - the principle that allows government to take private property for public use - into a related but more obscure area of the law known as "regulatory takings," in which the government doesn't take the property but decreases its value by restricting what the owner can do with it.

Along the way, Chabot's bill - titled the Private Property Rights Implementation Act of 2006 - has propelled the property rights issue into election-year politics and a congressional floor debate over a Cincinnati lawyer's resume.

Chabot said citizens should be allowed to go to federal court when their rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution are violated. And the Fifth Amendment says "no person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

"People deserve the same protections as they would any other constitutional protection, like freedom of speech, freedom of religion - and freedom from having your property taken from you," he said.

Bill opponents - including environmentalists, city planners and 36 state attorneys general including Ohio's Jim Petro - say the bill would eviscerate local control over land use, allowing big developers to bulldoze local zoning laws to build what they want, where they want.

"This bill is an attack on homeowners," said John D. Echeverria, director of the Environmental Law & Policy Institute at Georgetown University, "because a typical homeowner plans to stay there, they're not building anything. The typical homeowner depends on zoning regulation to protect their communities and the property values."

The bill passed the House, 231 to 181, the week before Congress recessed for the campaign season. It faces an uncertain future in the Senate, which is out of session and will have only a few weeks of "lame-duck" proceedings before the 109th Congress adjourns.

Even Chabot says he doesn't know what practical effect the bill would have.

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