Eminent domain could be used to keep federal agency in the city

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ST. LOUIS - Some north St. Louis property owners are preparing to fight city hall. They fear a decision made by the board of aldermen Friday will force them to sell their homes to make way for an office park.

The National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency, the federal agency that helped bring Osama bin Laden to justice, needs to upgrade its technology, and its current home in south city cannot meet those needs. Even though the agency will stay in the region, there is a highly competitive race underway to draw the 3,000 jobs to either St. Louis County or southwestern Illinois, specifically Fenton, Mehlville, and an area near Scott Air Force Base.

St. Louis City aldermen voted to blight 100 acres at the corner of Jefferson and Cass, forcing private property owners in the neighborhood to sell to a developer. Now, much of the land is already vacant. But those who love where they live, work, and worship do not want to move.

‘‘Jobs are always important. We don’t deny that, but all lives are important; communities are important as well, so whatever happens, I believe that we should be considered,” said Rev. Jonathan Davis, Grace Baptist Church. ‘‘I’m not so certain the geospace is going to choose this site…I believe that there’s other plans in the works, and if they are, I really hope that eminent domain is off of the table.”

‘‘I’m sure there are developers throughout the course of the country somewhere who could come in here and honor our citizenship rights that we have and that we deserve to maintain."

A decision is expected in the summer of 2016.

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