Misuse of eminent domain

To the Editor:

I was disturbed to read about the selectmen’s desire to look into using eminent domain to take over a private business on Main Street.

Is there a public need for the property in question? Most assuredly not. The selectmen don’t actually want the property. They just want the project completed faster.

What did the business do to deserve this threat against its future livelihood? They suffered a catastrophic loss, followed by economic hard times. How would the selectmen feel if their businesses fell on hard times and other members talked about forcing them out of business by the use of eminent domain?

As far as legitimate concerns selectmen and others on Main Street may have regarding safety issues, it would be simple enough to require the construction project to follow already existing rules for construction sites. While it may cost the business a little money, I don’t foresee the owners having a problem with this simple request, for it would significantly reduce their own liability.

However, if the selectmen’s concern is more aesthetic than safety, then they should drop the discussion entirely. It is not the requirement of business to follow the aesthetic whims of the selectmen.

I want to urge others to let the selectmen know that this is an inappropriate use of the eminent domain laws. It is neither the right nor the responsibility of the town to decide which businesses are going to succeed or fail.

Peter Goodale

Vineyard Haven