Community to oppose high court’s eminent domain ruling: 7/20/05

News Release

A group of City Councilpeople in Connecticut's largest city have submitted a resolution seeking to protect the city's residents from new broad court guidelines that “threaten the property rights of homeowners.” According to its author, Councilman Keith Rodgerson, “this ruling regarding land use and eminent domain establishes latitude where municipalities can take housing in eminent domain actions for a broad range of private and commercial purposes - including so-called ‘big-box’ stores and the replacement of affordable or middle class housing with luxury.“

Councilman Rodgerson, a local real estate professional currently pursuing a MA degree in Urban Planning, stated that his community is undergoing massive urban redevelopment and has fallen prey in recent years to the poor practice of subrogating homeowners rights to developers interests. “We had one of the densest tracts of minority owned housing in the country and it was leveled with the hope of increased tax revenues from commercial development of the land. This tract has been sitting vacant for almost a decade now as we are currently facing an affordable housing crisis.”

Mr. Rodgerson hopes that this resolution will encourage other communities to buck the court’s decision and instill protections that will protect the rights of their homeowning constituents. “Decisions are being made on the federal level that are wreaking havoc in urban communities. We need to start dictating policy from the ground up…from where the people are that these policies are effecting the most.”

Text of Resolution referred to the Economic Development Committee

Whereas the United States Supreme Court in Kelo vs. City of New London ruled that the City of New London’s proposed disposition of the petitioners' property qualifies as a "public use" within the meaning of the Takings Clause; and

Whereas there now exists through this ruling a latitude for abuse where municipalities can instigate eminent domain proceedings against rightful homeowners at the behest of any private business entity under the guise of economic development; and

Whereas this city has problematic history of taking private property away from homeowners in order to appease private business interests and “benefit a particular class of identifiable individuals”-often without any beneficial economic development resulting; and

Whereas the current court ruling is a direct affront to the rights of homeowners in this city at a time when we are undergoing a high degree of urban redevelopment.

Be it resolved, that the City of Bridgeport affirms its adherence to a strict definition of public use in determining whether or not to engage in eminent domain proceedings; and

Be it further resolved, that the City of Bridgeport be required to compensate homeowners at 200% of fair market value if the city chooses to exercise any power of eminent domain that results in the transfer of title of any portion of a homestead to any private business entity; and

Be it further resolved, that a copy of this resolution be forwarded from the Bridgeport City Clerk’s office to the Justices of the United States Supreme Court in the hope that they will reconsider their direct affront to the rights of homeowners in our city and across the country.

Keith Rodgerson
Bob Curwen
Henry Webb
Maria Valle
Amy Marie Vizzo Panniccia
Anderson Ayala
Marilyn Santacroce

Councilman Keith Rodgerson, Bridgeport City Council: keithrodgerson@post.harvard.edu