Move reminds of past blight fights when voters twice over-ruled City Councils
"Due to the overwhelming public outcry
resulting from the City Council’s plan to declare large areas of Columbia 'blighted' and create an Enhanced Enterprise Zone, Keep Columbia Free (KCF) is asking for volunteers to step forward and take action to recall
any and all current City Council representatives who choose to ignore the wishes of their engaged constituents and vote in favor of establishing an EEZ board," the group explained in a widely-distributed press release.
In 1963 and again in 1981, Council members ignored large-scale public opposition
and blighted large parts of Columbia to secure redevelopment incentives. Both times, citizen groups took the blight fight to voters, who soundly defeated City Hall's redevelopment plans. This time, the 180-member KCF joins Citizens Involved and Invested in Columbia (CiViC) in formally opposing the move.
Blight -- the Willy Wonka golden ticket of land use policy for developers in Missouri -- is a common first step toward eminent domain, explains KCF president Mark Flakne.
"Blight designations and the resulting condemnation proceedings have repeatedly been used to take property from low-income and minority populations across Missouri," the group explained in its press release. "This outrageous abuse of government power ignores the most fundamental property right protections enumerated in our beloved Bill of Rights and threatens the very Liberty around which our great country was founded."
"Columbia has the lowest unemployment rate in Missouri, was recently voted the hardest working town in America, and is likely the best place to live in Missouri – if not the entire Midwest," the group explains. "Declaring large portions of our city blighted is nothing short of fraud."