City defends seizing restaurant

`Quick take' frees block for developers in Charles North


March 09, 2007|By Jill Rosen | Jill Rosen,Sun reporter

After rebuking Baltimore's economic development tactics twice in recent months, Maryland's highest court continued yesterday to scrutinize the city's policies for taking private property.

Baltimore defended its seizure of the former Chesapeake Restaurant, saying the owner's refusal to sell was scuttling a $50 million renovation of the Charles North area. The property's owner, however, argued the city erred by seizing the property through a process known as "quick take" -- a sped-up version of eminent domain that Baltimore favors. The court ruled last month that it should be saved for instances of real urgency.

"I think the city missed the boat when it comes to satisfying the requirements to use quick take," said Alan R. Engel, the attorney for Chesapeake owner Robert Sapero. "We don't have a threat to public safety, and we don't have a hold-out situation.

Eminent domain State lawmakers consider boosting compensation. Pg 5b

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