Homeowners protest eminent domain decision
(Note: The "few dozen" people said to have been at this rally numbered in the several hundred, as is clearly evident in the video. As usual, the major muzzled media dare not anger their masters and tell the truth.)
July 5, 2005
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WSFB Channel 3
Hartford, Connecticut
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New London, Connecticut - Homeowners from all over the country gathered in New London on Tuesday to protest the Supreme Court's eminent domain decision.

A few dozen people turned out from around the country Tuesday night to protest.

They came from states like Texas, Kentucky, and New Jersey speaking out against the Supreme Court's decision on eminent domain.

The catalyst was New London's decision to take private waterfront property away from its owners and turn it into a major development hotel convention center retail and departments.

Last month the Supreme Court ruled the city could do this because of the economic benefit it would provide to the city. The court said that justified the public use clause of eminent domain.

Since then there has been outrage from homeowners and small business owners across the country, some of whom have turned out for this protest.

Death threats have been made against City Council and the mayor and there have been many protests like Tuesday's.

People are concerned that private property can now be taken for private use.

"The people at the bottom are the ones who are gonna lose. It's the collusion of big government and big business and that's a terrible partnership," said Kathy Gornik, who is against the ruling.

"Some business owner and some local official are gonna get together and look at a piece of property and say if we could just get Bubba off that corner we could make a lot of money. The Supreme Court said we will not stand in the way of that," said Chris Derry, who is also against the ruling.

The city of New London says it needs the land because it is in a dire economic condition.


Copyright 2005, WSFB.



Related reading:


Property values now an issue in eminent domain

July 4, 2005

By The Associated Press

11 Crown Street

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New London, Connecticut - With a long-running lawsuit over, homeowners and New London officials are now turning their attention to the monetary value of houses and property being taken to make way for a commercial development.

Susette Kelo, who sued unsuccessfully all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, would have turned a decent profit if she sold her cottage when New London and its partner, the New London Development Corp., approached her in 2000 to purchase it.

She bought her house for $56,000 in 1997 and would have been paid $123,000 three years later, which local real estate agents say was generous at the time.

But real estate prices have escalated in five years and Kelo and her neighbors will not profit from the increased value of their homes.

State law requires governments to compensate owners on the date of the taking, not its value in the current market. New London has technically owned the houses since 2000.

Kelo said her challenge was never about money, but was a matter of principle.

"I just want to keep my house," she said.

Officials of New London and the New London Development Corp. say they have not discussed how they will handle the matter since the Supreme Court released its decision June 23 allowing the property to be taken.

The New London Development Corp. has $1.7 million to pay the owners when they are eventually removed from their properties.

Some lawyers say compensating owners on the date of the taking is fair because property owners are discouraged from delaying government projects to collect more money. It also protects owners against a decline in real estate prices, they say.


Others argue that government often compromises the financial well-being of property owners when it seizes properties.

For example, critics say elderly residents who have paid off their mortgages may have trouble finding a home of comparable quality in the current market.

And customers lost to businesses may never be won back, say opponents.

Scott Sawyer, a lawyer who represents the New London homeowners, says governments should be required by law to ensure that people displaced from their property are unharmed.

"How do you change a person's emotional and financial life as little as possible?" he asked. "You might try to find a similarly situated property and then purchase it in such a fashion that the homeowner's bottom line on a monthly basis doesn't change very much."

The city believes a compensation fight might not require just a hearing before a judge.

Because the city has technically owned the houses since 2000, its lawyers believe residents were living in the houses as tenants free of charge as the litigation proceeded.

More than a year ago, lawyers for the homeowners were informed that their clients could be liable for use and occupancy fees if the courts upheld the city's use of eminent domain. City lawyers said then they wanted to give ample warning about the potential costs.

Both sides signed a pretrial agreement as the case was getting underway in early 2001, allowing the owners to remain in their houses and collect rent if they hosted tenants of their own.

The agreement also required residents to provide the city with an accounting of their income and expenses.

The city says the accounting, which the owners never submitted, was intended to square what might be owed to each side at the end of the trial.

Information from: The Day, http://www.theday.com


Copyright 2005, The Record-Journal.



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