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NORWOOD, Ohio - Ohio's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the city cannot bulldoze two houses while the homeowners try to save their homes from commercial development.

The homes of Joy and Carl Gamble and Carol and Joe Horney cannot be destroyed or altered, pending a further order from the court. The Rookwood Partners development group had in mind to demolish their homes to build commercial property to produce more tax revenue for Cincinnati.

The Institute for Justice, a Washington-based public interest law firm that represents land owners, argued a similar case Tuesday before the U.S. Supreme Court. The organization is challenging the state of Connecticut's authority to use eminent domain to demolish a working-class neighborhood in favor of an upscale development along the Thames River.

Eminent domain originally allowed the government to appropriate, with compensation, private property for public use such as roads or bridges. In 1954, the Supreme Court expanded that to include public purpose.

The city and the developer contended that they had the right to use the power of eminent domain to acquire the property and turn it over to the developer for urban renewal.

City attorney Gary Powell said the city has already bought the homes through eminent domain and transferred the titles to the developer. The city will ask the court to clarify whether its order would freeze the transfers, Powell said.

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