But local officials in other communities have been willing to accept the Corps’ terms.
Brookhaven, a town on Long Island in New York, agreed in 2018 to use eminent domain if necessary as part of a Corps plan to protect against flooding, according to James D’Ambrosio, a Corps spokesman. A spokesman for Brookhaven, Jack Krieger, referred questions to the Suffolk County government, which didn’t respond.
In Okaloosa County, Fla., the Corps asked officials to say in writing that they had the authority and the expertise needed to evict homeowners. The county said yes last June, but added that it might need the Corps’ help “justifying the necessity of the taking of private property,” according to documents obtained through a public records request.
Asked for comment, a spokesman for Okaloosa County, Christopher Saul, responded: “We are prepared to work with the Corps of Engineers to the best of our abilities in order to preserve the safety of Okaloosans.”
Other places appear to have had second thoughts. Last summer, Atlanta told the Corps that the city was able to use eminent domain, according to documents obtained through a public records request. The city informed the Corps in January that it was pulling out of the project.
Michael Smith, a spokesman for Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Another city looking at buyouts is Charleston. At a planning meeting in January, city staff told the Corps that they expected to acquire the land in phases, according to notes obtained through a records request.
Mark Wilbert, Charleston’s chief resilience officer, said the city had told the Corps it would acquire the property required for the project. Asked if Charleston would use eminent domain for those who refuse, Mr. Wilbert said that “yeah, we’d look at it real close.”