Despite Michigan’s having enacted legislation to prohibit state and local government from seizing land in order to give it to a private owner for ‘economic development’ under the auspicies of the ‘eminent domain’ clause in the United States Constitution, abuse of the power to take continues. Grand Valley State University threatens a neighbor with eminent domain action unless they sell a building the owners bought years ago, and which they plan to renovate as an apartment/office building, unless they sell. Offering a ‘deal’ and a threat together reminds one all too easily of the Godfather’s famous words: ”I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse.” It should be obvious that the owner negotiates at a disadvantage when the ‘sale’ is a foregone conclusion.
It should also be obvious that Grand valley state University could look for a different location. They choose to make their convenience the sole item of interest in deciding where to locate their new Seidman College of Business. Even if this power grab is legal, it is not moral, and GVSU show itself to be a bully and a bad neighbor. (How ironic, at a time when Wall Street bankers run amok, working hand-inhand with their former colleagues in government to shaft us, at a time when calls for a return to old-fashioned ethics in public life echo throughout the land, that a ‘College of Business’ would find a new home by working hand-in-hand with government to shaft a neighbor. One wonders if this lesson will be lost on the faculty and students who matriculate there.)
Perhaps a university with a previously good reputation will listen to reason and relent. As I pointed out when I wrote them, there are plenty of empty buildings and willing owners, so why not be a good neighbor? Here’s what I wrote: