There’s been quite a bit of public discussion recently regarding the concept of “eminent domain” under which it is possible for our government to require a private property owner to sell his or her land for a fair price if the sale is clearly in the public interest. In our country in which private property rights are a basic foundation I’ve always thought that eminent domain should only be used when absolutely necessary. I can understand why on rare occasions—for example when building a freeway such as I-69 or another important public project—property owners may have to sell their property at a fair price even if they don’t wish to do so. The recent Supreme Court decision dealt with the question of whether government can require a property owner to sell to another private entity. That approach seems to me to be a major “stretch” of the principal of eminent domain. Regardless of the Supreme Court decision, I believe that the principal of eminent domain should be applied as infrequently as possible.

As you are probably aware, construction of the Menard’s store at Southtown Center is proceeding steadily and the Walmart store and the regional public safety training center will follow. I’ve received several calls, emails, and letters praising the good progress at Southtown. Some who have contacted me have expressed concern about storm water drainage at the Southtown site. I’ve looked into this matter and have discussed the situation with the management staff at City Utilities. The bottom line is that after all construction is completed at Southtown there will be more surface that can absorb storm water than there was at the old Southtown Mall. It’s very likely that additional storm water retention ponds will be required as additional business development occurs in the area.

I recently met with members of the Ferndale Neighborhood Association at their great summer neighborhood picnic. Thanks for the invitation! We discussed several issues and I promised I’d report back regarding some matters I checked out at their request. I’ve spoken with Steve Sheckel of the County Surveyor’s office. He assured me he’d take some measures to clean up the storm water ditch along Baer Road. He did point out that some weed growth in the ditch isn’t a problem since any growth stabilizes the bottom of the waterway. Al Lichtsinn of Fort Wayne’s Street Light Engineering Division will make sure that street lights on Fernwood aren’t blocked by tree limbs and he plans to add a new light at the north end of Fernwood in that area. Tom Pallone of the City Storm Water Division agrees that something more should be done to keep debris out of catch basins in the area during heavy storms. Would the individual who has seen a temporary debris screen placed over storm drains during heavy downpours elsewhere give me a call with more information. Finally, I’ve spoken with representatives of Fort Wayne’s planning office. They’ve heard of no plans to develop the open field to the west of Fernwood (much of which is zoned residential). However, it’s always possible that the property owner is at the earliest stages of development of a project for that piece of property. I hope this answers some of the questions which were asked last week.

Don’t forget to (1) call our U.S. Senators and Representatives and ask them to help keep the local V.A. Hospital open and (2) take your kids and grandkids to the great Waynedale Summer Party at Waynedale Park on Saturday, August 27th—there’ll be lots of nice treats for the kids! Call me with any suggestions or concerns regarding our city!


Tom Hayhurst
4th District City Councilman

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Tom Hayhurst

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