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Florida town plans to use eminent domain

Oct. 4, 2005 at 2:37 AM

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Officials of a poor, predominantly black Florida town plan to relocate about 6,000 residents to make room for a billion-dollar yachting and housing complex.

The coastal community of Rivera Beach in Palm Beach County may use eminent domain, if necessary, to claim 400 acres of land for the project, The Washington Times reported Monday.

"This is a community that's in dire need of jobs, which has a median income of less than $19,000 a year," Mayor Michael Brown said. "If we don't use this power, cities will die."

The U.S. Supreme Court in June upheld the use of eminent domain for economic purposes, ruling against a group of New London, Conn., homeowners fighting a proposed corporate development.

The City Council last week chose a New Jersey-based developer, Viking Inlet Harbor Properties LLC, to oversee the project, which is expected to displace 2,000 houses.

Viking has said it will pay at least the assessed values of homes and businesses it buys.

Dana Berliner, a lawyer who represented the New London homeowners, warned, "Once someone can be replaced, so something more expensive can go where they were, every home and business in the country is subject to taking by someone else."

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