Once again, a home for Wal-Mart is costing local residents their homes. According to KSL TV 5 in Ogden, Utah, city officials are using their eminent domain power to condemn property and move people out of their homes forever, to clear a path for another Wal-Mart that already is located in a nest of Wal-Marts. The property Wal-Mart wants is a few blocks from what KSL calls “Ogden’s struggling downtown.” No mystery as to why the downtown is struggling. There is a Wal-Mart 15 blocks north of this proposed new site, and 30 blocks south — a classic case of retail saturation. The 21 acre demolition will destroy 34 homes and 8 local businesses. Not all the property owners have agreed to be bought out at this point. One homeowner told reporters: “I think the city leaders are looking down here and they’re not seeing people or businesses. They’re seeing dollar signs.” Ogden Mayor Matt Godrey invoked a higher cause for his actions: “We don’t like to do this. We feel bad about the people who don’t want to sell, but I think it’s in the greater good that we redevelop this area.” But another resident summed up how the homeowners feel about being betrayed by their Mayor and city officials: “It’s wrong. It’s fundamentally wrong to kick people out of their homes and give them less than it’s worth, because they got the power to do it through eminent domain, and then give that to the biggest company in the world.” Some residents of Ogden have decided to challenge the eminent domain use in court. That court case is all that stands between them and rubble.
Whenever a local official invokes a “greater good,” you know the little people are going to suffer. The Ogden case joins Alabaster, Alabama, White Hall, Ohio, and Maplewood, Missouri as examples of homeowners being displaced and torn from their homes, just to build another redundant Wal-Mart. For more stories on this theme, search Newsflash by “eminent domain” or “relocation.”