University Expansion & Eminent Domain

There is an interesting article by Emily Schwarz that discusses expansion plans at Columbia, Harvard and University of Pennsylvania.

“I found that the expansion project enjoying the best community relations was the University of Pennsylvania’s redevelopment of the 40th Street Corridor. Penn’s development process went relatively smoothly because it did not take any action without consulting its community. This is not to say that Penn has acted perfectly, but the main setbacks that Columbia and Harvard have faced were the result of secrecy. In the long run, being open pays off.”

Emily Schwarz, “University Expansion and Eminent Domain,” Planetizen – The Planning and Development Network

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4 Responses to University Expansion & Eminent Domain

  1. Lynda Halley says:


    Right now, the “Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2005″ is being considered by the U.S. Congress. The bill — H.R. 4128 — was introduced in the House on October 25, 2005, by Sensenbrenner and after a couple of edits was passed by the House on November 3rd.

    The Senate introduced the bill on November 4th.

    You can read the bill and see its most-recent version at:

    Now, before we get too excited, this bill primarily addresses the use/abuse of eminent domain for ecomomic development — not our situation, of course. But, as Richard Eggerman stated in the NewsPress last week, “I wonder how we will regard use of eminent domain so that a state university’s athletic facilities can expand.”

  2. Interested party says:

    I am a licensed architect and have worked for architectural firms in Oklahoma, Connecticut, New York and Colorado, and for a city planning dept in Texas. The architecture school I attended emphasized that communication is the first step in any project. City planning projects always started with community meetings and sometimes included talking with residents at their homes in order to proactively get their input.

    The process adopted for this expansion of Oklahoma State has sown bad feelings in a community that has been overwhelmingly supportive of the University. The planners have also failed to take advantage of the residents’ great wealth of knowledge and experience.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Here is an excellent resource: Citizens Fighting Eminent Domain Abuse at…

    It is here, under “Current State Legislation” that you will find we have three Oklahoma State Legislators that have set up a task force to fight eminent domain.

    State Senator Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, and Tulsa Representatives Mark Liotta (R) and Pam Peterson (R) announced the formation of the task force in July, 2005. They plan on introducing legislation for the 2006 session. In announcing the creation of the task force, Sen. Jolley said, “I’m so pleased to bring together many of those legislators who have a desire to study and jointly introduce legislation in both the Senate and House to protect Oklahomans from the potential harm which abuse of eminent domain represents.”

    Although again, their focus seems to be directed toward protecting private property from seizure for private economic development, they state “We’re afraid that the ruling [by the Supreme Court] could threaten more than home ownership; issues like water and mineral rights as well as any other rights dealing with real property could be affected. We want to make sure that our citizens and everything they work hard for is protected.”

    The full press releases (2) can be found at:

    I will add a comment to the Contacts > State Government section of this forum and list all persons connected with this task force and their contact information.

  4. Marion Agnew says:

    Relating to Eminent Domain:

    This letter was sent to Senator Clark Jolley and another, with a covering note, to Senator Morgan.

    Dear Senator Jolley:

    Would your Task Force fighting the recent re-definition of eminent domain please consider OSU’s recent plan for acquiring land in Stillwater in pursuit of an athletics village (

    First, OSU claims that it’s now a “state-assisted” institution, not a “state-supported” institution ( because “state dollars currently provide less than half of OSU’s funding needs.” If this is true, then how does it have the legal right to use eminent domain to claim private property?

    Second, part of OSU’s argument in favor of the expansion is the economic growth that a better athletics facility will bring to Stillwater ( Claiming economic development puts this acquisition squarely into the category of abuse your task force is fighting. Also, because the property would be used for athletics facilities, not actual educational programs, the public doesn’t benefit from the expansion. Although better public education does generally benefit everyone in the entire state, this acquisition won’t improve education at OSU.

    Third, although OSU claims that exercising its right eminent domain is a last resort in this acquisition, its first announcement of this plan threatened its use. Once the term is mentioned in conjunction with a plan, the concepts of “fair market value” and “adequate compensation” become meaningless. Therefore, if OSU is successful in acquiring these lands, they have cheated private companies of the opportunity to develop enterprises. Private companies interested in purchasing the land for development can’t compete with the rock-bottom prices OSU can get when it lets the phrase “eminent domain” slip out.

    Fourth, their plan to acquire property targets elderly and low-income residents, many of them OSU students who can’t afford university housing or the gentrified rental properties – which are also farther away from the university.

    Please look into OSU’s actions in this matter and let them know that their threats of eminent domain are the kind of abuse that you want to stop. I am also alerting Senator Morgan to this issue — it’s the kind of threat to the business community and Stillwater residents that should unite statesmen on both sides of the aisle.

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