The Ridgeland suburb of Jackson, Mississippi, is using its property code to get rid of older apartment complexes with an eye toward reducing rental properties in the city. In 2014 the town rezoned sections of Southeast Ridgeland from multifamily to mixed-use, forcing many buildings into noncompliance.
The targets include the Baymeadows apartment complex whose residents are more than 80% minority. The city claims the area is blighted but few residents agree. The property owners have been renovating the units and grounds that include a gazebo area and swimming pool.
Under the city’s plan, within some six years the owners will have to close the complex and tenants will have to vacate. Unlike eminent domain actions that undergo legal review and must compensate property owners, the amortization and zoning ploys legislate away property rights without compensation. Baymeadows will lose both the future income revenue from the apartment rentals and the value of the underlying asset. Who wants to buy a property whose units would likely have to be bulldozed to comply with new zoning rules?
Ridgeland’s action is already the subject of several federal and state lawsuits, including one from Baymeadows, alleging the law violates due process and represents an unconstitutional taking. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has filed an administrative complaint charging that the town’s action represents “unlawful discrimination based on race.”
Eminent domain is often abused for the benefit of private interests, but many states have pushed back and passed laws to protect property owners. Cities are now using amortization and zoning to accomplish the same end, but the Constitution bans takings without “just compensation.” Courts are the last stand against this government abuse. Rest of editorial.
Kingfish note: Oh, what a tangled web the Mayor wove. He voted or approved most, if not all, of these complexes. Now he is seeing what happens when there are too many apartment complexes and doesn't know what to do.