POSTED: 24 JULY 2005 - 10:00pm HST


Eminent Domain decision spurs action

Angry Americans Want to Take Souter's Land
by Beverley Wang 24 July 2005 in the Associated Press

WEARE, N.H. -- Near the foot of an unmarked, dead-end dirt road sits a humble, mud-colored farmhouse. A sign on a mailbox jutting from a tilted post spells "SOUTER."

Some folks want to make that "Hotel Souter."

People from across the country are getting behind a campaign to seize Supreme Court Justice David Souter's farmhouse to build a luxury hotel, according to the man who came up with the idea following a Supreme Court decision favoring government seizure of private property.

"We would act just as these cities have been acting in seizing properties. We would give Souter the same sort of deal," said Logan Darrow Clements, of Los Angeles.

Town Clerk Evelyn Connor has had to return checks from people wishing to donate to a hotel construction fund. A rival proposal from townspeople would turn Souter's land into a park commemorating the U.S. Constitution.

Souter has declined to comment on the matter, but he has defenders, like Betty Straw, his sixth-grade teacher.

"I think it's absolutely ridiculous," she said. "They're just doing it for spite."
Souter was one of five justices who sided with the city of New London, Conn., last month in a decision favoring government power to seize private property by eminent domain. The city plans to build a private hotel and convention center, office space and condominiums.

The 65-year-old justice has lived for decades in his family's home in this central New Hampshire town, about 15 miles from Concord. His 8-acre property is undisturbed by neighbors whose yards are strewn with rusting farm equipment and old pickup trucks.

The house, more than 200 years old, is one of the few remnants of the original East Weare village, which was seized 45 years ago to make way for a dam.
Clements, 36, has never been to Weare, population 8,500, but is a member of the Free State Project, the libertarian movement that chose "Live Free or Die" New Hampshire as its promised land and wants to move 20,000 followers here. The group's second annual convention started in Lancaster on Saturday.
He knows his hotel plan is hard to take seriously.

"That's sort of the story of my life: Nobody takes me seriously until I do something," he said. "We will be taken seriously when we make a formal presentation to the powers that be in Weare," he said, adding that he is talking to several development consultants.

Clements said his mission, like his long-shot bid for governor of California in 2003, is rooted in his passion for a philosophy of free-will capitalism embodied in Ayn Rand's 1957 novel, "Atlas Shrugged."

"We should have a voluntary society where people interact with each other through trade, not through the initiation of force," Clements said. He got 274 votes.

Connor, the town clerk, said it's all a little much for a town where the biggest excitement of the year usually is the Weare Patriotic Celebration, which this year featured an American Legion chicken barbecue, carnival rides and a men-versus-women softball game.

"We just got a Dunkin' Donuts," she said.
Other town officials agree.

"It was the general consensus that we were not interested in taking anyone's property," said Laura Buono, head of Weare's board of selectmen. She said board members are willing to review any formal proposal Clements submits.

But in a state where people fiercely protect their right to local control over land and government, many said the nuisance is Souter's just deserts. A recent University of New Hampshire poll reported 93 percent of state residents oppose the taking of private land through eminent domain for private development.

"It's something you really don't want to screw with around here," said Charles Meany, Weare's code enforcement officer.

He thinks the hotel idea is "ludicrous" and doubts whether Clements will be able to satisfy requirements to prove the economic necessity of building a hotel on Souter's land.

But Clements has his share of local supporters, including David Archambault, who runs a go-cart track near Souter's home.

"What this is doing I think is wonderful, because he's getting a point across to all these people that they're getting too much power," Archambault said.
Robin Ilsley, who makes syrup on a family farm about two miles from Souter's place, thought the justice brought the controversy on himself. "It was a pretty stupid ruling," she said.

Even her mother, who watched Souter grow up, is unsympathetic.
"I like David very much, but I don't like his ideas," said Winnie Ilsley, 77, who runs a doll museum at her farm. "I just don't think it's fair," she said of the New London decision.
And the hotel?

"Let 'em build -- but I don't think it's going to happen," she said.

by Logan Darrow Clements for release 27 June 2005

Weare, New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.

"This is not a prank" said Clements, "The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."

Clements' plan is to raise investment capital from wealthy pro-liberty investors and draw up architectural plans. These plans would then be used to raise investment capital for the project. Clements hopes that regular customers of the hotel might include supporters of the Institute For Justice and participants in the Free State Project among others.

Logan Darrow Clements
Freestar Media, LLC
Phone 310-593-4843