Private Golf Course Almost Goes Public Through Eminent Domain

Spurred by a desire to increase a wealthy New York village's worth and appeal, a string of politicians spent over 10 years trying to use the power of eminent domain to acquire a private golf course and make it public. Despite Kelo, the push failed.

For over 10 years, politicians in the wealthy, upscale village of North Hills, New York, had attempted to acquire a local private golf course and transform it into a public course. But by "public" they meant that it was to be used by only those of the village's 4,500 residents who wanted to pay more than $18,000 a year for membership. The Kelo vs. New London case gave North Hills a positive push towards taking over the land by eminent domain, but the acquisition was eventually ruled unconstitutional.

"Critics like to mock eminent domain abuse as "Robin Hood in reverse"--taking from the poor to benefit the rich. Not so in North Hills, where the fight for Deepdale pitted rich villagers against even richer golfers. Judged by its real estate prices and per capita income, North Hills, a village of about 4,500 residents, ranks among the wealthiest communities in America. And its location offers a vast array of nearby choices for those wishing to hit the links."

"The eminent domain clamor spurred Michael Balboni, a Republican state senator from Long Island, to push legislation shielding the club. Balboni, whose district includes North Hills, says he first heard of the Deepdale spat last winter. Mayor Bloomberg in particular expressed his disgust. As Balboni tells it, Bloomberg privately said to him, 'This is government-facilitated extortion.' "

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