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N.H. Constitution now prohibits eminent domain for private gain

To The Daily Sun,

This is response to Robert Heinrich's letter in the April 12th Sun.

I understand his passion in regards to the Kimball Castle and its present state. I do not disagree with the points he's brought up. However, there is one suggestion he made that, as interesting as it is, is a non-starter, that being using the power of eminent domain.

After the disastrous Kelo vs. New London Supreme Court decision in 2005, a number of states changed their laws or amended their constitutions to prevent another Kelo eminent domain disaster. New Hampshire is one of those states that amended its Constitution, doing so in 2006.

Part I, Article 12-a states: (Power to Take Property Limited.) No part of a person's property shall be taken by eminent domain and transferred, directly or indirectly, to another person if the taking is for the purpose of private development or other private use of the property.

Taking the Castle by eminent domain and "selling" it to the Wildlife Forest Committee could be construed as violating the section of the state Constitution quoted above because the committee is not a public organization, meaning it is not part of the municipal or county government, but a private one. It might not matter that the committee will make the property open to the public. It would still be private property.

Then there's the matter of how much would the town compensate the present owner of the castle and for how much would the town "sell" the property to the Wildlife Forest Committee. Would it be a one-for-one price? Or would Gilford taxpayers have to make up the difference should the "selling" price be below what the town paid to the owner of the property taken? As it would apply here, eminent domain would take the town someplace it shouldn't go, despite the good intentions.

Dale Channing Eddy

Gilford

 
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