Eminent Domain Ruling Affects Dallas Cowboys Stadium
Last week’s ruling in the Kelo eminent domain case will be affecting Arlington, Texas residents whose houses are in the way of the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium construction.
The Arlington City Council is expected to authorize on Tuesday eminent domain proceedings against as many as 19 properties needed for a new Dallas Cowboys stadium and approve resolutions paving the way for 33 more condemnations in the coming weeks.
Mayor Robert Cluck said the properties are owned by individuals who are either unwilling to sell or are demanding an unreasonable price for their homes or lots. Some have not responded to the city’s offers, he said, and a few would not allow city negotiators on their property. “If they can’t make reasonable counteroffers,” Dr. Cluck said, “we have to use this tool.” City officials said they would continue to negotiate with property owners through Tuesday to try to avoid the need for condemnation. However, Dr. Cluck said, some homeowners are unlikely to settle without legal action.
The city’s announcement came a day after the U.S. Supreme Court released a decision confirming that cities have wide latitude in condemning property for economic development purposes. That decision, which Dr. Cluck said didn’t affect the timing of next week’s votes, means that federal appeals of condemnations for the stadium in Arlington are unlikely.
Robert Magnus, whose house is on the condemnation list, said he was unaware of the City Council’s vote next week, but he’s not surprised. He had hoped that the Supreme Court would help him with its Kelo v. New London case. Mr. Magnus would not say how much the city has offered him for the house he’s owned for two years, but he said it wasn’t enough to pay off his mortgage. “They are just giving me pennies and telling me to get out,” he said.
City officials said they are required to pay fair market value for the properties, and in addition, they are offering incentives ranging from $5,250 for renters to $22,500 for homeowners who agree to accept an offer and move quickly. Also, some moving expenses would be paid by the city.
Glenn Sodd, a Corsicana attorney specializing in eminent domain cases, could not be reached for comment Friday. He has said that he represents the owners of 15 homes and lots and four apartment complexes that are on the stadium site and that he would take the cases to the state Supreme Court if necessary.
Making people give up their homes in order that a football team can play eight home games a year is almost certainly not what the Constitution’s Framers had in mind. I’ve been a Cowboys fan since the mid-1970s and am glad to see them get a new stadium. But, surely, Jerry Jones has enough money to pay off the homeowners.