Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February 16, 2010 Jinks: Is City Ready To Use Eminent Domain for Walking Paths Through Residential Yards?

At the City Finance Committee meeting on Thursday, February 11, construction of greenways (trails) through Morristown was discussed.

A large grant is tied to the project, but there are also local costs associated with the trail development and construction. Various estimates for local costs were tossed around--$150,000, $300,000, maybe more, maybe less.  There was no vote, but Administrator Cox took the tenor of the councilmembers' discussions to be indicative of a consensus to spend more dollars in preparing for this project in case it proceeds at some time in the future.

Then Councilman Claude Jinks discussed the elephant in the room. Jinks asked how the City would acquire residential strips of land for construction of the trails.  I have not seen the trail drawings, but Jinks indicated that current plans establish trails that go through residential areas in the Fairview community. Jinks added that he had spoken to people in that community and that they are opposed to having walking trails through their backyards, sideyards, front yards or anywhere on their property.

Jinks said some of these property owners will not sell their property for trails, and he asked if councilmembers were prepared to use eminent domain to take private property from individuals in order to make walking trails through those taxpayers' and homeowners' yards.

If the trails involved the building of new sidewalks along the street or widening of existing sidewalks, that would be one thing.  It is an entirely different thing, however, to go into a peaceful residential neighborhood and have the city take your property and your neighbor's property to build walking trails through yards so  people--who you don't know anything about--can walk behind and beside your house.

It is hard to imagine that the city approved lengthy walking trails through existing residential backyards, but, according to Jinks, that is the current design.

Trails in the appropriate locations sound good. Trails that take private property and result in strangers being able to walk around and through residential side, front, or backyards are ridiculous and ought to be nipped in the bud.

I don't believe any of these wonderful trails go through Vantage View or any councilmember's yard. Wonder how the Mayor or a councilmember would feel if the City came knocking and said I am taking a strip of land 200' long and 10' wide in your backyard so I can make a walking path for people that you don't know to use?

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