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Eminent domain not appropriate for Bridgeport stadium

Dear Editor,

I have been following the recent developments concerning the Bridgeport School District’s plan to take a thriving business through the use of eminent domain.

I refer our readers to the definition of eminent domain. It is the power of the government to take private property belonging to its citizens for public use. Local, state and the federal government have the power of eminent domain.

I have read the Ohio Revised Code, and two sections stand out to me: Ohio Revised Code 163.02, which states that no agency shall appropriate real property except as necessary and for public use. In any appropriation, the taking agency shall show by a preponderance of the evidence that the taking is necessary and for public use.

The second is Ohio Revised Code 3313.39. It empowers school districts to use eminent domain. “[W]hen it is necessary, in the opinion of any board of education, to procure or enlarge: (A) any site for a building to be used for public school purposes whether as classrooms, auditorium, or for technical training, administrative, storage, or other educational purposes … the board may proceed to appropriate such property.”

The property involved must be deemed “blighted.” This ensures that the public purpose for taking property is tied to the elimination of blight and the redevelopment of property for the public’s benefit. I don’t see athletic field anywhere in this wording.

Why the school board wants to deprive the village of business revenue to build a football stadium near its campus is beyond me.

Check the enrollment numbers and the number of students who will actually use this facility. There could be at most six football games and three months of practice and possibly a few soccer matches.

This, according to the Ohio Code, is not a necessity but a luxury. Its use will not cover the lost income by the business they deemed blighted and condemned.

The only revenue the school generates for the village is building taxes and payroll, which the public is paying through school bonds.

To deprive a thriving business owner of his ability to generate income, pay taxes and employ people is just plain insanity and fiefdom greed.

Who is going to pay for construction? It will be from the tax payers of the school district. If this happens it will not eliminate blight and the redevelopment will not benefit the public as a whole but a single entity.

This is not what eminent domain was intended for, but the powers that be seem to think they are above the law.

Frank Papini

St. Clairsville

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