Eminent Domain is the dreaded legal term that gives the government the power to buy your property, even if you don't want to sell. We had hoped that we would never see it happen in North Idaho, but here it is.
Just the other day (September 26, 2023) the Hayden City Council voted 3-1 to start the proceedings of eminent domain on a property owner who was the final holdout on the expansion that pushes Ramsey Road and the sewer through to Lancaster Road. Today we aren’t going to argue the right and wrong of that decision. But rather now that it’s apparent that eminent domain will be exercised here for the sake of a road or a sewer to go through to support future development, it causes us to ponder what else could warrant the use of eminent domain. It appears to be a slippery slope.
A few months back, the Hayden Urban Renewal Agency (HURA) submitted a request to the Hayden City Council to expand the district from 700 to 770 acres in size. This expansion, if approved, would put all of Government Way from Prairie to Buckles, into the HURA district. The Future Land Use Map (FLUM) already has the new Mixed Use zoning code engulfing the East side of Government Way as well. HURA has the ability to request that eminent domain be used to acquire property in the district; then it would ultimately be the decision of the Hayden City Council to grant it. Up until now, the taking of a property seemed improbable. But now we can see that it has and can indeed happen again.
HURA is an unelected board that is accountable to no one, and yet they have a million dollars in Hayden taxpayer money coming in each year to spend as they alone see fit. HURA is asserting that they will make improvements at intersections along Government Way if given the extra property in their district, but they are not required by law to commit to do so. HURA has also mentioned the need of low-income housing in Hayden, so what if they decide to go that direction?
Please listen carefully. What we are saying is that this upcoming election is very important. Now that you've seen that eminent domain is indeed real here, consider carefully about zoning, HURA’s expansion with no guarantee of road repairs, and the purple Mixed Use zoning along Government Way on the FLUM. Once land is zoned for higher densities such as Mixed Use, building higher density apartments or other dwellings within those zone code parameters no longer requires City Council approval.
Also remember that the person who spearheaded the 2040 Comprehensive Plan in Hayden and established the Mixed Use code is the same person who is now the Executive Director of HURA. Is that just a coincidence?
Elections matter. If you are concerned about eminent domain, growth, increased taxes, traffic, and private property rights, then be sure and vote this November 7 for candidates who do not support the use of Urban Renewal Districts and the use of eminent domain.