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Eye On Boise

House passes bill to ‘rein in urban renewal a little bit’

Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, is pushing HB 506 to further limit urban renewal, by removing any authority for eminent domain or condemnation, and by removing urban renewal agencies' power to enter and inspect properties within their projects. “We think it's time to maybe rein in urban renewal a little bit,” Nonini told the House, which voted 47-18 in favor of the bill; it now moves to the Senate side.

Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise, argued against the measure, noting that legislation passed last year already strictly limits when urban renewal agencies can use the power of eminent domain. He said when he served on an urban renewal board in McCall, “We needed it at times,” for “pieces of land that were clearly blighted and deteriorated.” Killen said, “You're limiting the local governments unnecessarily.”

Nonini said an attorney for urban renewal agencies who testified against the bill in an earlier committee hearing said he'd never seen condemnation power used by an urban renewal agencies in 30 years, but that it'd been a “good threat tool.” Nonini said he didn't like that idea. “I mean, c'mon people, is that any way to treat our people?” he asked.

Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, said, “They just got a little too big for their britches in some areas,” and urged support for the bill. Of urban renewal, she said, “It's been nothing but a pain in the bee-hind.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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