Urban renewal projects often rely on the power to seize property as a way to re-invent whole blocks in downtown areas. But the practice is controversial, and in Erie, Colorado, a town near the city of Boulder, voters have shouted down the idea. The Daily Camera has this report: ("Erie trustees adopt urban renewal plan for Old Town, but drop eminent domain after public outcry," by John Aguilar).
Residents attending a public meeting said the proposed authority was excessive and could damage the area's historic character, the paper reports: "They said a survey that identified blight conditions in Old Town -- including deteriorating buildings, buildings without sprinklers, missing sidewalks, insufficient lighting and location in a floodplain -- was unfair in its characterization of the mostly residential neighborhood. James Briars, an Old Town resident, said the determination of blight was a 'matter of opinion' and that many of the items cited in the report were mere code violations that could be easily corrected, short of placing the entire neighborhood under an urban renewal plan. At the center of his argument, and many of those who spoke Tuesday, was a strong dislike for the power of eminent domain that the plan would have given to the town. While all municipalities have the power to condemn property for the purposes of building roads and utilities, an urban renewal authority can further use the power as part of an effort to remedy blight."