As good as it gets?

062505sunrise.jpgIn August 1986 I finished up a project in Vienna and realized I had four days before the next scheduled assignment in Geneva, so I rented a car and drove across Austria, part of Germany and the width of Switzerland, spending nights in Salzburg and Vaduz, Liechtenstein.

062505sunrise.jpgIn August 1986 I finished up a project in Vienna and realized I had four days before the next scheduled assignment in Geneva, so I rented a car and drove across Austria, part of Germany and the width of Switzerland, spending nights in Salzburg and Vaduz, Liechtenstein.

The hotel in Salzburg had a deck that overlooked the Alps and I sat there after an early dinner, watching the sun set. At the time, I remember thinking: “This is as good as it gets.”

This morning, after my usual pre-dawn walk, I fixed a cup of coffee and walked halfday down the hill that doubles as our front yard and sat in the swing of our gazebo, watching the dark blue of the morning light up into day. I drank my coffee and thought about that day in Austria nine years ago. Yes, a life spent traveling the world had its benefits and rewards but my thought the afternoon on the deck of that hotel in Salzburg was “as good as it gets” was both premature and superficial. It was a passing, and pleasant, moment of life experience but hardly a permanent one.

This morning, this week, this time, swinging in a gazebo with our home on the hill and the land spread out in front of me is, in fact, as good as it gets.

Hopefully, it will stay that way. Hopefully, because this week the United States Supreme Court, in a moment of insanity, ruled 5-4 that the city of New London, CT, could seize the private property of homeowners and turn it over to developers who want to replace homes that have stood for centuries with a new, upscale, condo and shopping development.

Floyd County is a long way from New London but five miles away from our home, in downtown Floyd, a worthwhile charitible operation called Angels in the Attic faces eviction from property they own because the town wants to turn that property into a parking lot for the site of The Friday Night Jamboree.

Thankfully, the uproar that erupted when the town’s plans became public cooled any ardor for such a proposal and Angels operator Kathy Boyd says town councilmen have assured her they will not try to impose eminent domain on Angels but that was before the Supreme Court’s incredibly stupid decision. Thankfully, Floyd County Store owner Woody Crenshaw says he has no desire to see Angels displaced and the threat appears to be over…for now.

But what happens if a developer wants the land my house sits on for a golf course, resort or gated community? Will the county supervisors see dollar signs, look at the Supreme Court ruling, and say “so sorry old boy but this is progress?”

We have a farm in Carroll County that has been eyed for the last two years by a “recreational community developer” in Charlotte. So far, we’ve turned down five offers on the land. Now I have to worry because the Supreme Court ruling could allow the Carroll County Board of Supervisors, a money-hungry group who never met a developer they didn’t like, to use the Supreme Court ruling to simply take our land and give it to the folks in Charlotte.

With state and county elections coming up, I intend to ask some hard questions to those who come to my door and seek my vote. Those who hem and haw or evade the issue won’t get the votes of the Thompson household. The old adage that “nobody’s life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session” may have to be amended to add “or when court convenes.”

At the moment, life in Floyd County is as good as it gets but I can’t just sit in our gazebo and hope it stays that way.

Not with the barbarians at the gate.

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6 Responses

  1. Trying to see a silver lining here…
    perhaps with this ruling thousands of others like yourself across the country will ask the pointed and direct question to their county officials at election time: Do you support or oppose this ruling? It’s possible that county boards across the nation could swing to anti-development because of this ruling. This assumes that there will be at least one candidate to vote for who does oppose eminent domain for private development, and they hold to their word. This also assumes that I’m not living in fantasyland, which is highly possible.

  2. First that photo is awesome.

    Second the decision to allow municipalities the right of expanded eminent domain, while passed by a majority of justices was by no means a mandate. The Justices JUSTICE O’CONNOR, THE CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTICE SCALIA, and JUSTICE THOMAS join, dissenting. Justices O’Connor and Thomas wrote excellent dissenting arguments. I am including a quote from Justice Thomas’s argument I think it sums the decision up nicely.

    THOMAS, J., dissenting

    “Something has gone seriously awry with this Court’s interpretation of the Constitution. Though citizens are safe from the government in their homes, the homes themselves are not.”

    http://www.supremecourtus.gov/

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