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Mount Pleasant Declares Homes in Footprint of FoxConn 'Blighted'

Aerial Image of Central Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, U.S.

The Mount Pleasant Village Board declared an area in the footprint of the proposed FoxConn plant as “blighted.” The vote was just the latest step in the village’s attempt to acquire the land for the construction of the development.

While some residents in the "blighted" area have already come to an agreement with the municipality, there are still some holdouts. Now it seems the village may try to acquire the rest of the land through eminent domain.

Anthony Sanders is an attorney at the Institute for Justice, which represented homeowners in the case of Kelo v. City of New London. The city was seeking to claim eminent domain over land they hoped to sell to the Pfizer conglamorate, which wanted to develop the land for commercial purposes. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which sided with the City of New London.

Sanders says the decision was controversial among people of all political pursuasions, and the ruling spurred legislation in states through the U.S. 

"To date, 45 states have changed their laws to make it harder for the government to be able to do what happened in Kelo, and Wisconsin was one of those states," Sanders explains. "In 2006, Wisconsin changed its law, so it is much harder for cities to take private property and give it to a private corporation, such as FoxConn."

But the changes in 2006 did not make any changes for land deemed "blighted" by a municipality or government agency, which could change the process of acquiring the land. Still, Sanders says the designation doesn't preclude the homeowners rights. 

"Just because it's labeled as 'blighted,' doesn't mean that the city can then use eminent domain to take all of the land," says Sanders. 

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Joy Powers joined WUWM January 2016 as producer for Lake Effect. Most recently, she was a director and producer for The Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ-fm, Chicago Public Radio.