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Letter: County land grab effort unecessary

To the editor,

We write this letter regarding the eminent domain issue and the insightful editorial by the Hastings Star Gazette supporting the landowners and questioning the county’s blatant attempt to forcibly take private property. The issue raised goes much deeper than the surface we see. Just what should be the role of government and what are the rights of citizens?

One thing that makes this country we live in unique is the fact that we have the right to own property. Thomas Jefferson originally promoted “life, liberty and property,” but to move forward with the declaration of independence “property” was changed to the pursuit of “happiness.” Amendment V of the Constitution addresses taking private property for public uses. The reason we need and have laws is because of life, liberty and property, not really to ensure any pursuit of “happiness.”

If we look at the Minnesota State Auditor’s Report regarding County Expenditures (the latest available is from 2011) we note that the Dakota County per capita expenditures on both public safety and streets and highways rank 87th of 87 counties while the per capita expenditure for culture and recreation is seventh of 87 counties. It is intuitively obvious to the most casual observer that the Dakota County Commissioners must think the pursuit of happiness is more important.

The explanation for this taking is to provide protection of the shoreline, ensure water quality provide public access to Spring Lake and provide the best experience for users (pursuit of happiness.) Currently there are two public landings within this park (Dakota County charges for parking at one of them.) We submit that private property owners who have invested their own money and sweat into their properties may in fact take better care of the properties than government. Plans include bike trails kept open all winter long and floating cabins. Is this what our government should be doing?

We are not arguing against bike trails or parks. We know too that there are legitimate cases where government may have to use eminent domain. In this case it clearly is not necessary to do so. If a government can take private property readily, it can also take your guns, your free speech and other rights.