Republican gubernatorial candidate William Weld, who has called the use of eminent domain to seize private property a policy better suited for Communist China than for America, yesterday cited two examples of when he would support such a move.
At a Crain's Business Breakfast in Midtown, Mr. Weld said he would support the use of eminent domain for the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, as well as in cases of building affordable housing in certain neighborhoods, depending on "the character of the neighborhood you were razing."
The benefit to the public created by such private projects would justify the use of eminent domain, he said.
During a Manhattan Institute breakfast on March 1, Mr. Weld said a recent Supreme Court decision that permitted eminent domain to spur economic development "has put alleged collective needs ahead of individual liberty and property rights, and increased tax revenue ahead of the pursuit of individual happiness. It's a decision I would expect in Communist China."
The proposed Atlantic Yards project, which would include affordable housing and a new basketball stadium for the Nets, "is clearly okay," he said yesterday, because "that whole project is imbued with public interest. ... A major public asset is involved there and it's not simply an effort to increase the tax base."
Mr.Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts, referred to Scullay Square as a counter-example. There, he said, eminent domain "destroyed the warmest and most vibrant part of Boston and replaced it with what can only be called Mussolini architecture. It's now a complete wasteland of brick."
Mr. Weld said using eminent domain to allow Columbia University to create a second campus in Morningside Heights was "a tougher case." Its appropriateness depends on exactly what would be built, he said.
The chairman of the New York State Democratic Party, Herman "Denny" Farrell, called Mr. Weld's remarks "a flip-flop."