Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Town Proposes Eminent Domain Restrictions

Norwalk Ordinance Change Could be a Model for Other Towns, State

Norwalk's Common Council is considering changing town ordinances to severely limit the town's eminent domain powers:

Common Councilman Michael Coffey ... placed on the agenda an ordinance limiting the city's powers to seize private property solely to build public facilities, such as schools or roads; to preserve open space; or to address health or safety hazards. (AP)

This proposal comes as eminent domain returns to the front burner in the wake of the issuance and quick withdrawal of eviction notices to Fort Trumbull, New London residents. Such a limitation on eminent domain powers could provide a model for other communities looking to safeguard property rights in the wake of the Supreme Court's Kelo v. New London decision.

Perez Defends Economic Usage of Eminent Domain

There are plenty, however, who feel that the use of eminent domain for private development is necessary for urban revitalization. Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez is one of them.

Perez told lawmakers that legislation that hamstrings local and state governments' ability to use eminent domain would undermine economic-redevelopment efforts.

Eminent domain "is a powerful economic development tool used sparingly that helps cities create jobs, grow business and strengthen neighborhoods. No locally-elected official whom I know would use eminent domain to undermine the integrity of or confidence in homeownership in his or her community," Perez said. (Watts)

Very reassuring, especially given Hartford's sledgehammer approach to redevelopment.

If I were running for office in any town in Connecticut this fall, I would take the language of the Norwalk resolution and promise to propose such a measure for my town. People may not understand the finer points of economic redevlopment, but they do understand that private property ought not to fall victim to profit.

"Councilman proposes severe restrictions on eminent domain." Associated Press 20 September, 2005.

Watts, William L. "Limits urged in eminent-domain authority." MarketWatch 20 September, 2005.

1 comment:

Tom Andersen said...

I don’t particularly support using eminent domain for private developers, and I realize that anecdotal evidence (especially when it’s just one anecdote) can be dangerous, but nevertheless…

Yesterday’s Journal News, which covers Westchester County, N.Y., had a story about a charter fishing boat, owned by a fellow named Kevin Reynolds of Fairfield, Ct., that is doing well because of Port Chester’s use of eminent domain. Here’s what the reporter wrote (I link to it from my blog, Sphere, to make a different point):

"His business became more visible with the development of Port Chester's downtown. To make way for a Costco and other stores, the village forced businesses to move, dislodging Reynolds and the Westchester Marina from their former address. Reynolds now leaves from the end of Willett Avenue at the north end of a walk along the Byram River. In the new spot, he was able to feed off the Ebb Tide Restaurant. There, he began taking on more families. At times, he would turn people away when his boat reached its capacity of 20."

That’s not proof. But it does show that Mayor Perez might possibly have a valid point.