Opinion: On Friday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote an article about a Hadley Township resident, 92 year old Alice McGee. In the article, Mrs. McGee discusses her refusal to sell her property to a developer, in this case Pace Properties, and her wishes to be left alone. According to Rick Randall, senior vice president of Pace Properties, McGee's refusal to sell her house could stop a potential $125 million project along Hanley Road between Dale Avenue and Elinor Avenue. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, if Mrs. McGee agrees to sell her land, she would receive $313,000.
First things first: it is ultimately disrespectful for Mr. Randall to state that Mrs. McGee would be responsible for stopping a multimillion dollar project from happening. Mr. Randall knows that even though he has no intention of using eminent domain, if most of the residents agree to sell their homes, the city of Richmond Heights will not hesitate to use eminent domain to remove Mrs. McGee from her home in the interest of governmental progress. Mr. Randall deserves an A+ in scapegoating residents in doomed redevelopment projects; Mr. Randall obviously must not understand the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which allows for eminent domain to be used with due process if most of the residents decide to sell their homes, with just a few holdouts (Yes I know the 5th Amendment talks about self-incrimination, but the line about due process is the justification for eminent domain. I also know that the 14th Amendment is popularly known as the Amendment that gave former slaves citizenship, but it also extended the due process portion of the 5th Amendment to the states by overturning Baltimore v. Barron, which allowed eminent domain to take place on a state and local level without due process).
I understand that $313,000 is a lot of money. Trust me, if I was offered that amount of money for my house, I would sign my name in all caps in the same fashion that Mayor Adam West planned to do when he attempted to sign a ban on gay marriage in the fictional city of Quahog, Rhode Island as a distraction from the Dig ‘Em statue controversy on the television show Family Guy. In fact, my signature would be so big, even the ghost of John Hancock would say, “Now that’s how you sign a contract!”
The problem I have with Mr. Randall’s statement is that he is looking for someone to scapegoat in the instance that the redevelopment plan fails, when there could be a whole host of reasons that the deal falls through. If you honestly believe that Mrs. McGee, a woman who may only have a few years (if that) on this earth would simply be the cause of stopping development from occurring in Richmond Heights, I will tell you that I am a realtor who is going to sell you some beachfront property in the beautiful city Cheyenne, Wyoming. Besides, I am sure once this deal happens, city officials will start playing this song repeatedly as a toast to getting more sales tax dollars.
Truth be told, the city Richmond Heights has been attempting to redevelop Hadley Township for so long, I should start a twitter hash tag, “things that have lasted just as long as Richmond Heights’ attempts to redevelop”. In fact, I will start a list now: 1) Kim Kardashian’s relevancy, 2) the wait for Dr. Dre’s Detox album to come out, 3) the hope that Van Halen can actually complete as summer tour. You get the point. I am all for progress, but not at the expense of demagoguing a defenseless woman such as Mrs. McGee.