UNT’s use of eminent domain to obtain land is a low blow on small businesses

UNT’s use of eminent domain to obtain land is a low blow on small businesses

UNT’s use of eminent domain to obtain land is a low blow on small businesses
February 21
01:03 2019

The IHOP restaurant near campus has served its last stack of pancakes, thanks to UNT. The chain restaurant located at 1001 North Texas Blvd. closed its doors for good on Sunday to relocate to Rayzor Ranch after the plot was obtained by the university through the means of purchase (or) eminent domain, which the school had been planning for years according to the North Texas Daily.

Eminent domain is a legal term that refers to the government’s ability to claim private property to be converted for public use, according to Cornell’s Legal Information Institute. As stated under the Fifth Amendment, the landholder must be “justly compensated” for the taking of their property, but eminent domain is often abused. City officials often cohort with developers to help them obtain property they otherwise would not have access to, according to the Institute for Justice.

Eminent domain abuses are rampant in Texas especially and contribute to the destruction of the small farm landscape. The government commonly shortchanges or lowballs landowners through eminent domain, according to the Texas Tribune. In the same article, the Tribune reported federal officials would sometimes pressure owners of farmland to make the decision quickly in the middle of the harvest season.

Taken literally, eminent domain means a more deserving or esteemed entity taking ownership of and occupying a piece of land. With this in mind, we can surmise how little UNT officials value smaller businesses around campus that are well-loved by students.

One Twitter user pointed out UNT unreasonably encourages students to not drive their cars to campus while paradoxically making it harder for them to be car-less by turning stores and restaurants in walkable distance into more UNT real estate:

In addition to the property near the interstate, the UNT Board of Regents authorized the use of eminent domain to acquire several properties along Avenue C by a vote on Feb. 11, according to the North Texas Daily. This land includes New York Sub Hub, Campus Bookstore, Oriental Express and other businesses.

Denton residents and small businesses loyalists voiced disdain on Twitter, saying UNT’s version of manifest destiny is degrading the town’s uniqueness.

New York Sub Hub at 906 Ave. C has been there since 1979 when owner Hunter Christiansen moved to Denton from New Jersey, according to the North Texas Daily. It is an off-campus fixture, as are the neighboring small businesses Naranja Cafe and Eagle Car Wash, and they would all be severely missed by the students that sustain them. It goes without saying that those hit hardest by UNT’s eminent domain seizures are local business owners.

One Twitter user understandably brought up the ongoing, almost perpetual construction happening on and around the university’s campus.

Aside from the questionable principles of obtaining the land, there is the question of the bleary-eyed UNT student, leaving Willis Library after an intense study session or leaving Fry Street a few pitchers deep. What other business but IHOP could placate broke and burned out 20-somethings’ 1 a.m. desire for mozzarella sticks and chocolate milk? Only time will tell.

Whichever way you look at it, forcing people to give up their private land to satisfy your own selfish interests is not a good look. In this context, a sizable, powerful academic entity is throwing its weight around to bully nearby businesses into selling their land, and furthermore, university officials won’t even disclose their plans for the property they obtain.

Taking the liberty to speak for all UNT students, let us just say: unless it’s parking, you can miss us with that.

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

About Author

North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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3 Comments

  1. Tanya
    Tanya February 21, 11:53

    This is exactly the way I felt when people were forced out of their homes in Arlington to make way for Jerry World. It was appalling. At least UNT has a better agenda.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Beaver
    Beaver February 21, 23:30

    Denton lost “the town’s uniqueness” the day the tomato burned down.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Merlin
    Merlin February 22, 08:50

    “he plot was obtained by the university through the means of purchase (or) eminent domain”

    Which was it? They are totally different means of obtaining the property and seems sort of important to the story (sorry opinion) which focus on IHOP and UNT’s use of (potential) use of eminent domain (of future properties).

    Reply to this comment

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