Guest Opinions

Guest Opinion: City of Eagle action on land use is an abuse of power

Recently I read the guest opinion from Kim Blough regarding the latest eminent domain lawsuit in Eagle, this time over the old gas station downtown. I felt I needed to add something to this story that has not yet come to light and that may surprise a lot of people.

Three years ago, I personally attempted to acquire a city business permit to open a basket gift shop at the specific location in question, which is on the southwest corner of Old State and Eagle Road. My intentions were to bring the old building back to life. My application was denied. It was denied not because I wanted to open a business, not due to the type of business, but the location. I was specifically told no permits would be issued at that location. It makes it really difficult for the owners to lease out property if every company that applies at the location is denied a business license. What is really going on here?

I have since learned I’m only one of several different entrepreneurs that have wanted to use that location for a business and all have been turned away by the City of Eagle. I’ve heard several people say it’s an eyesore, that we need to do “something for the vitality of the city” there. Really, I think one or two of those rejected potential businesses would have solved that problem.

Now I see the city has spent thousands of taxpayers’ dollars to clean up private property adjoining that corner lot and as part of an agreement the city gets to lease the property for two years as a temporary parking lot before it is sold to a developer, I imagine to make something more appealing to the eyes of our city leaders.

Which leads us back to the old gas station and its owners, who we all know now are being sued by the Eagle Urban Renewal Agency under eminent domain because they say the property is blighted. This is also to be turned into a two-year temporary parking lot.

A two-year temporary parking lot. Really? That’s the justification for such an atrocious, heavy-fisted action? I spoke with the owners once I heard this and asked if they had been issued any violations of city code. They replied that since the gas and mechanics station closed, they have never been issued a citation for blight, nor any violation for the building. The city just wants to take their property.

Is the Eagle URA’s plan to erect a hospital, a school, a police or fire station on that corner? Is it a new roundabout? If the answer is no, then what could be so important that we need to take land from any citizen, that is not being used in criminal activity, from an owner who is not behind on the taxes of said property? Oh, and who doesn’t want to sell it for less than half its market value?

In my case, I never fathomed that after serving for 24 years in our armed forces that I would return home to retire only to find my local government acting in the same tyrannical, oppressive manner — utilizing the same unreasonable and arbitrary abuses of power — that so many other veterans recently fought against overseas. I find this act on the part of the city reprehensible.

Eagle City Council: remember, it’s an election year, your constituents are watching.

Shane Curry is a resident of Eagle.