Time to Switch to BB&T?
By PAUL NOWELL
Associated Press Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Regional bank BB&T Corp., one of the
nation's largest financial institutions, will make no
loans to developers who plan to build commercial
projects on land taken from private citizens by the
government through the power of eminent domain, the
company said Wednesday.
"The idea that a citizen's property can be taken by
the government solely for private use is extremely
misguided, in fact it's just plain wrong," John
Allison, the bank's chairman and chief executive, said
in a statement.
In an interview, BB&T chief credit officer Ken Chalk
said the bank expects to lose only a tiny amount of
business, but believes it was obligated to take a
stance on the issue.
"It's not even a fraction of a percent," he said. "The
dollar amount is insignificant.
"We do business with a large number of consumers and
small businesses in our footprint. We are hearing from
clients that this is an important philosophical
Chalk said he knows of no other large U.S. bank with a
BB&T, which is headquartered in Winston-Salem, ranks
among the nation's top 10 banks by assets.
In June, a divided Supreme Court ruled that cities may
raze people's homes to make way for shopping malls or
other private development. The 5-4 decision gave local
governments the power to seize private property in the
name of increased tax revenue.
The ruling upheld a decision by the City of New
London, Conn., to seize seven property owners' land so
developers could build a hotel and high-end
condominiums to keep pharmaceutical giant Pfizer
expanding in the state.
Scott Bullock, a senior attorney with the Arlington,
Va.-based Institute of Justice who represented
homeowners in the case, applauded the bank's decision.
"Eminent domain abuse is wrong and unconstitutional,"
Bullock said in a statement. "BB&T has stepped up and
recognized its corporate responsibility to not be a
part of this shameful abuse of individual rights."
In its statement, BB&T said 38 states have recently
passed or are considering laws to ban the use of
eminent domain for private development. Similar
legislation is pending before the U.S. Congress.
"While we're certainly optimistic about the pending
legislation, this is something we could not wait any
longer to address," Chalk said in a statement. "We're
a company where our values dictate our decision-making
and operating standards. From that standpoint, this
was a straightforward decision; it's simply the right
thing to do."
BB&T, with $109 billion in assets, operates more than
1,400 branches in 11 states and Washington, D.C.