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Eminent Domain Case Goes to Supreme Court

3:25 PM, Jan 17, 2008   |    comments
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By Casey Nolen (KSDK) - Should the city of Arnold have the right to condemn property under eminent domain in order to build a shopping center? That question will go before the Missouri Supreme Court Thursday. And while the land owner fights the city for his property, the development has already started -- all around him. Inside Dr. Homer Tourkakis' dental office, it's business as usual -- as it has been for the past 23 years of his practice. "Although it's been difficult informing patients on how they can get here because the roads been taken away," Tourkakis said. That's because outside, construction crews have circled the doctor's office -- building a new shopping center to the edge of his property. The development is at the intersection of Interstate 55 and Highway 141 and at the center of the city's plan to bring in more revenue and revitalize Arnold. The project is well under way; some stores have already opened. And the doctor's property is the last piece of the developer's plan. When the doctor refused to sell, the city condemned his property saying it's an economic blight holding up the progress of the city. "They decide what fair-market value is,” Tourkakis said. “No owner under the threat of eminent domain has the opportunity to decide what his property is worth to him." Counting on the taxes it will generate, the city of Arnold says this development is in the public's best interest. And that without it, services will eventually have to be cut. The city also says, that should the doctor win his case in court, "progress, health and safety (in Arnold) will have taken a back seat to Dr. Tourkakis’ property rights." "We're not against development whatsoever, that's fine,” Tourkakis said. “But I came in here on my own and established my business without any efforts put forth for me by the local government." The Missouri Supreme Court will hear the case Thursday and the ruling could have wide spread effects on cities similar to Arnold across the state.


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