Thursday, January 26, 2006

BB&T--Watching Out for the Little Guy

I wonder if BB&T bank will be accused of being "vigilantes" like the minuteman in Arizona. They, like the minuteman, saw something our government was doing as a problem and have taken steps to do what they can to help prevent the problem from expanding.
According to the Washington Times, the second-largest bank in the Washington DC area has decided to refuse loans to any developer seeking monies to develop land acquired via eminent domain. Read more...

BB&T Corp., the second-biggest bank in the Washington area, said yesterday that it will not lend money to developers who plan to build commercial projects on land taken from private citizens through the power of eminent domain.

"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," said John Allison, the bank's chairman and chief executive officer.

BB&T Chief Credit Officer Ken Chalk said the North Carolina bank expects to lose only a tiny amount of business, but thinks it is obligated to take a stand on the issue.

"It's not even a fraction of a percent," he said. "The dollar amount is insignificant." But, he added, "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 issue."

Mr. Chalk said he knows of no other large U.S. bank with a similar policy. If other banks were to follow suit, it likely would stop developers from asking cities to obtain property through eminent domain, said Scott Bullock, a lawyer with the Institute of Justice in Arlington, a nonprofit group that advocates for property rights through legal action.

"This tells cities and developers that they need to choose other methods for development projects," Mr. Bullock said. "There are ample methods that do not involve taking property against [residents'] will. They should be pursued and can be fully funded by banks and other financial institutions."

Maybe other banks should follow suit--everything BB&T has done seems to be within the parameters of the law, and yet their actions are able to make a difference. Congratulations to BB&T for standing up for something they believe is right.


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