by Timothy Sandefur
The Pacific Legal Foundation has agreed to represent Missouri dentist Homer Tourkakis and his wife Julie, whose land has been condemned by the city of Arnold. The case will be heard by the Missouri Supreme Court.
The City of Arnold, about 20 minutes south of St. Louis, is trying to seize the property to construct the Arnold Commons, a shopping center that will include a Lowe's hardware store, and Office Depot, and other retailers. The Tourkakises, whose land overlooks Interstate 55, have owned their building for almost 20 years, but city officials have bigger plans for that property. And they believe that private property is really just a government privilege that can be revoked whenever bureaucrats have a "better" idea.
The Missouri Constitution, unfortunately, allows certain cities to condemn private property to eliminate "blight." But it gives that power only to charter cities, and Arnold is not a charter city. That fact didn't deter Arnold's bureaucracy, which claims that state law allows them to take the land anyway. State judge M. Edward Williams rejected the city's argument in May, and the city has now appealed to the state Supreme Court.
The Pacific Legal Foundation is very proud to represent the Tourkakises, and we have high hopes that the Missouri Supreme Court will adhere to the clear language of the state Constitution, and prohibit this unauthorized condemnation.
For more information on this case, consult PLF's Media Backgrounder.