Homeowners fight eminent domain decision: WSFB TV3 (CT), 2/22/05

Imagine you've finally paid off your mortgage, then you're charged rent for the land you thought you owned!

That's what's happening to seven homeowners in New London's embattled Fort Trumbull neighborhood.

Mathey Dery says, "My first thoughts are these are our homes. We don't owe anybody to live here."

Matt Dery's family has called Fort Trumbull their home for four generations.

"This property has been mortgage free since 1958," he says. "My parents are in their mid 80's. They live here, they want to collect rent from them. They want to collect rent from us on our own home and also wanted our tenants to pay them."

The neighborhood was taken over thru eminent domain by the New London Development Corporation. They won a long battle last winter when the state Supreme Court ruled in their favor for the right to seize property.

Now, the city's development arm is asking the Dery's and other homeowners to pay use and occupancy fees.

A nearly $230,000 figure is now owed by the Dery's. That's $76,633 over the past three years or $6,386 a month.

"I guess if we stay here a few more years we're going to have to give them our furniture and a couple of dogs," Dery says.

Eyewitness News made several attempts to talk with the NLDC about the occupancy fee issue, but they gave no comment.

This eminent domain war is not over. According to homeowners, the occupancy fee issue is just another skirmish which they vow to fight.

As previously reported, the NLDC is holding in escrow the money to buy the property from the seven owners.

WSFB TV3: www.wfsb.com