Land-use/political consultants find disapproval of controversial decision letting government seize private property; at 80% level, well beyond what has been reported, reflecting growing community activism against development
The Saint Index©, an authoritative survey documenting American attitudes about land use, has found that opposition to the Supreme Court’s Kelo v. New London ruling is growing everywhere in the country. Disagreement with the ruling is a national manifestation of the war against new development that is being waged at the local level.
Founded in 1983, the Hingham, MA-based Saint Consulting Group [TSCG] is considered the premier political analyst in the US and UK to concentrate on land-use politics and zoning conflict resolution.
In the 5-4 decision announced in June 2005, the High Court found that local governments may seize private property by eminent domain for economic development purposes. The events of the case concerned Suzette Kelo, whose New London home was threatened with demolition to accommodate a new project.
Statistics published shortly after the ruling indicated that 68 percent of Americans disagreed. But according to The Saint Index, commissioned by TSCG, by late fall of 2005 opposition had already swelled to 80 percent, with 63 percent of those interviewed disagreeing strongly.
According to Patrick Fox, president of the international consulting firm, survey results determined that, “Most Americans do not want development in their communities to begin with. And they certainly do not want government agencies to encourage new development if it means seizing and demolishing private homes in favor of new business.”
The survey also indicates that Americans are more active and adept at opposing development projects than had been surmised. Reports Fox: “Our survey found that one in five families has even fought back against development. That’s an amazing statistic.” The Saint Index also determined that respondents claiming a detailed knowledge of the politics surrounding land-use and development issues were less likely to support the Kelo decision.
The Center for Economic and Civic Opinion at University of Massachusetts/Lowell conducted the survey in late 2005, collecting data from 1,000 people across the United States. TSCG launched the annual index to help businesses discover the source of opposition to development projects, and then determine the most effective ways to get more projects approved, faster and more advantageously.
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