The Iowa House has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would limit the authority state and local officials have to seize land for the development of lakes.
Representative Bobby Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton, says private property rights should not be easily tossed aside.
“It should be hard to condemn ground,” Kaufmann says. “It should be not possible to condemn ground for recreational purposes and it should be illegal to condemn ground based on deceit.”
This debate was originally sparked several years ago when officials in the Osceola area wanted to condemn property for a new lake. Critics charged it was more about creating a new lake for recreation than in developing a water source for businesses and new housing developments.
The bill that has cleared the Iowa House would let the former owners of condemned property buy it back if two years has passed and there’s been no development on the ground.
“I’m not against recreation. I’m not against tourism. I’m not against economic growth,” Kaufmann says. “I’m for all of those things so long as they take place on land that has been bought (from) willing sellers.”
The bill restricting the “eminent domain” authority of state and local government officials cleared the Iowa House on a 93-6 vote Monday afternoon.
“It’s an example of what can happen on a controversial issue when we decide to all work together,” Kaufmann says.
Representative Joel Fry, a Republican from Osceola, did not vote on the bill, so as to avoid a conflict of interest. Fry owns property that could be impacted by the legislation.
AUDIO of debate on House File 219 (mp3 runs 8 minutes).