Land Grab or 'Just Desserts?'
A California man angry about a recent Supreme Court (search) decision that allowed a Connecticut city to seize private property for commercial use is trying to turn the ruling against one high court justice.
Logan Darrow Clements wants to build a hotel on an eight-acre property owned by Supreme Court Justice David Souter (search) in the small New England town of Weare, N.H., as a way to protest the eminent domain ruling.
Clements says that putting a hotel on Souter’s property would make a lot more money for the town, and would also make a point about private property rights.
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"We're trying to educate five special people about the importance of the Fifth Amendment by using their own flawed logic and applying it to their own situations,” said Clements. "It is a PR effort to call attention to eminent domain (search) abuse and it's a creative way to do it."
Souter was one of five Supreme Court justices who sided with the city of New London (search), Conn., in its fight to seize private landowners' property in order to build a hotel and convention center. Eminent domain allows municipalities to take private land for its own use -- despite the owners' objections -- if the proposed project for that land, such as a road, benefits the community.
Clements says he wants to build the "Lost Liberty Hotel," complete with a dining room called the "Just Desserts Cafe," where Souter's 200-year old farmhouse sits today.
Souter isn't commenting on the attempted land grab; and while some locals support the idea, others call it "ludicrous.”
A Weare official says the plan may not meet the court's burden of proof.
"I just question what kind of economic development will the town of Weare benefit from this?” said Weare Selectwoman Heleen Kurk. “I don't think the homework has been done."
Clements’ supporters need just 25 signatures to get the proposed hotel on the ballot next March, where a simple majority vote would force the town to take a serious look at claiming and rezoning Souter's property.