Sunday, August 15, 2010

Resolving the Mosque Issue

Seems to me at bottom the controversy over the community center/mosque planned for lower Manhattan is a NIMBY (not in my backyard) issue.  Everyone agrees the group has the legal right to build 2 blocks from the World Trade Center site; it's just some like the ADL and some conservatives don't think it's a good place. In this light there are a couple ways to resolve it, methods which apply whenever NIMBYism raises its head. Of course, since I'm a liberal, they involve using governmental authority:
  • use zoning laws to specify that no religious building shall be built within x miles of the WTC site, grandfathering in the existing churches. (It wouldn't be legal to specify no mosques.)
  • use eminent doman to buy all the property within x miles of the WTC site, so the land become government owned, just like the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville.  Of course, the cost would be high.  If the public is willing to pay the price, and not spend the money on other uses, then they can have a buffer zone.
[Updated:  You could also do a "legislative taking", which is what Congress did for some Manassas battleground land back in the day.

Finally, I like Dan Drezner's comments.]


    Walter Jeffries said...

    Ew. I detest eminent domain. Partially because the method was abused by some real estate developers to take my cousins farm so they could build commercial buildings there. They were much more sly about the reasoning than that but I figured it out even as a child watching the whole thing unfold. Eminent domain should require payment of the owner's price, nothing less. If they won't sell then it can't be bought. This, of course, eliminates eminent domain but that's the point. It is a vile practice abused by the powerful to steal from landowners.

    Zoning's almost as bad but they've already got tons of zoning in NY so it's an existing evil.

    Bill Harshaw said...

    You must really dislike a "legislative taking" then. :-) (