VIEWSrnFor Keeps!rnA Christian Defense of Propertyrnbv Scott P. RichertrnTom Ditzler, a veteran, buys 30 acres of rural farmland. Forrn50 years, he and his wife, Jan, live there, rearing tvvo children,rnCassandra and Christina. Tom comes to know the contoursrnof his propert- bv heart—the creek tiiat runs across hisrnland, the wedands surrounding the creek, the hills and woodsrnriiat rise up from the creek bed tow ard his house. Though legal-rnIv blinded when a mortar misfired during an Army training exercise,rnTom can walk his propert)’ without assistance. He canrneven drive a truck through portions of it.rnThen, one dav, eervthing changes. Count}’ officials notif}’rnhim that thev are going to build a road across his land. In diernname of economic progress, the)- will take 17 of his ?0 acresrnthrough eminent domain. The road will cut him off from therncreek, from the vvetiands, from the hills. It will run right past hisrnhouse, less than 100 feet away. The world that he has known forrn30 ‘ears—the propertv’ that has restored a measure of the freedomrnthat he lost along with his sight—will suddenK’ becomernmuch smaller.rnA voung black jazz musician lies with his grandmother in arnhouse that his family has owned for many vears. In a neighborhoodrnthat would politely be called “marginal,” flenrv’ Hamberlinrnand his grandmother have kept up their home with a c[uietrnsense of dignitv’. The woodwork has been immaculatel- kept,rnand the original gas lamps still work.rnThen a federal judge comes along and declares that the localrnpublic schools have “raised discrimination to an art form.” Onernof his solutions? Increase taxes dramatically to pay for the constructionrnof elaborate-and expcnsie —schools in historicallyrnScott P. Richert is the executive editor of Chronicles.rnblack neighborhoods. But blenrv’s house stands in the wa ofrnrectifying racial wrongs. The school district cannot take hisrnhome, so the cit}- begins eminent-domain proceedings. Therncit)’ offers him a fraction of what it is worth, basing its value onrnsimilar —but less well kept —homes in the neighborhood.rnWhere Hcnr)”s house once stood, the support staff at Ellis FinernArts Academy now park their cars.rnA sanitary-sewer district notifies residents in a rural area of therncounh’ that it will be using eminent domain to gain permanentrncasements across the front of their properh’. A sewer trunk isrncoming through to service a subdivision proposed bv a wealthyrncontributor to local political campaigns. Although the sewerrncould be run through farmland on the opposite side of thernroad—and the owners of the farmland have no objection—officialsrnfrom the sanitar}’ district privately admit that they want tornlay the sewer on the residential side of the road in order to makernit po.ssiblc for the cit}’ to annex the properti,, even though diernsanitar}’ district has no official ties to the cih’ government. Withoutrndie sewer running tiirough their front yards, these propert}’rnowners might eventually end up as a pocket of the county surroundedrnby the cit}’—with lower taxes and separate sen’ices.rnAn Hispanic family buys a building in a run-down part ofrntown. Since the riots of the late 60’s, die area has been iargeh’rndead. Now, a revixal of sorts is taking place, led b’ the Torreses,rnwho convert the building into a Mexican market. It is the onlyrngrocer}’ store of any size in that quarter of die cit’, and thus enjoysrna mixed clientele—whites, blacks, and Hispanics.rnThen a local developer commissions a study to determinernthe feasibilih’ of building a large grocer}’ store where the TorresrnMarket currently stands. After several vears, he finally finds arnAPRIL 2001/1.3rnrnrn