When Eminent Domain Goes Wrong – In And Around Lambert – St. Louis International Airport
What is eminent domain?
According to Wikipedia, eminent domain is “the power to take private property for public use by a state.” Eminent domain is most often invoked to build government buildings, utilities, highways, railroads, and public services like bus depots, airports, and other economic essentials. When the economic viability of a public project, like a railroad, exceeds the perceived value of the community – the land is taken and appropriated by the state in the interest of the public.
As you might imagine…
This makes residents angry. Really angry. Angry enough to create a cottage industry out of filing lawsuits in an effort to keep their homes from being taken. Even though residents get what’s considered “just compensation” for their property, feelings of community and nostalgia are impossible to suppress. Imagine the local government approaching your parents in the neighborhood you grew up in and offering them “just compensation” for the right to tear down your childhood home to build a railroad.
Or an airport
In the case of the Carrollton and Bridgeton Terrace subdivisions north of St. Louis International Airport, that’s exactly what happened. The really sad part is not only did their houses get taken, they were torn down to make way for a runway that didn’t break ground for another 20 years! Accusations of airport mismanagement are rampant. The initial expansion was meant to cater to TWA, a long-defunct airline. There are no major jet hubs at the airport. It can hardly be considered “international.” Sure, you can fly directly to Toronto…but that’s about it.
Evidence of decay
Half of a cemetery had to be moved from one side of the highway to another. A fellow even made a video showing the former-neighborhoods “suburban decay” in lieu of the intended airport expansion. Normally “urban decay” is a phrase reserved for urban areas like Detroit. But when eminent domain strikes, urban, or in this case suburban, decay can strike just about anywhere.
A happy ending for the bees
According to the writer at the 56 Houses Left blog, a bee keeper signed a contract with airport management to keep bees on airport property that used to be Freebourn Park. Cost? $75 a year. 56 Houses Blogger calls it a “[concession] to the end of [airport management’s] cargo shipping hub pipe-dream, at least for this year-long contract.”
And maybe the bee contract really is a sign of things to come.