By Alan Moger, Waterford CT
I have always enjoyed reading The Day, but feel this time it is failing in reporting both sides of the story regarding eminent domain.
I believe the following are facts that The Day frequently omitted from its pieces on the Supreme Court ruling:
- The Supreme Court ruling says that each state makes the laws regarding eminent domain and we are not telling Connecticut that its law is wrong.
- The seven houses in question are in an industrial/commercial zoning section of New London, not residential.
- Six of the seven homeowners have not lived in the houses in more than 18 months.
- The homeowners say it is not about money, but in 1999 each one wrote a letter stating they would sell for a certain price.
- The legislature of the state of Connecticut gave $75 million to the New London Development Corp. for this project after approving the entire plan after a lengthy study.
The Supreme Court has said the laws of Connecticut allow the NLDC to use eminent domain to take the properties. If the people of Connecticut don't like it, change the laws.
By W R Antonowicz, Ledyard CT
The recent decision by the United States Supreme Court on eminent domain has greatly disturbed the domestic tranquility of our country. The Day's editorial titled “It's time to move ahead,” published June 26, is misleading and erroneous. There can never be closure unless social justice is served.
As we the people understand it, New London's problem is a small land area of 6 square miles, and almost half of that property is tax-exempt. That means New London is losing almost half of potential tax income. Why then, would the city take property from tax-paying citizens such as Susette Kelo and put a tax-exempt Coast Guard museum on it?
So why doesn't New London condemn tax-exempt properties such as Mitchell College and put in a giant waterfront hotel, marina and spa, and surround it by high-priced condominiums? That is prime waterfront land that can be returned to the tax base of New London, and would make more sense instead of taking private property already being taxed.
But then again, isn't this all wrong? The Fifth Amendment specifically says “private property taken for public use.” Public use means the property should be tax-exempt. The danger here is that with the collusion of unscrupulous lawyers, politicians and contractors, any property could be taken if it promises to provide a higher tax base, which is in effect, a license to steal.
The Institute for Justice should request an appeal and demand that any property taken for public use remains that way, a tax-exempt property.
In the meantime, the New London Development Corp. should seize the Mitchell College campus by eminent domain. That's where the big tax dollars are.
By Sandra Clarke Oney, New London CT
(The writer is a member of New London Development Corp)
Six years ago, Connecticut's governor, legislators, attorneys and architects reviewed proposals for the Fort Trumbull peninsula and chose the best plan for New London.
They also paid the costs of accomplishing that plan.
The city and New London Development Corp. purchased some 70 properties. NLDC conducted two appraisals of each property and provided the higher of the two to the homeowners. The appraisals were considered very generous by realtors, but a few “residents” wanted more, and the process of acquiring their properties through the courts began.
After five years of litigation, the courts all found in favor of New London and NLDC.
Now the state is considering rewriting eminent-domain laws, first scheduling public meetings, reviewing nearly 80 statutes and creating the new bill. Then officials schedule sessions to discuss the bill and then they might vote on it.
They are also considering pre-dating this bill to stop New London from moving forward.
New London has waited five years and now waits again.
The few remaining Fort Trumbull “residents” are also waiting. Some reside on the peninsula while others left long ago and are collecting rents for these properties. They have lost their case in court but are hoping that these latest circumstances may assist them in demanding even more money.
The state should first consider if it is correct to repeal this plan.
The Day has faithfully reported on the “residents' stories,” but has failed to report on the demands they are making.
What began as a project to help New London has become a matter of national controversy, and the people who are most critical of New London don't know the full story.
Like Paul Harvey, I ask, “When will The Day tell ‘the rest of the story'”?
The Day: www.theday.com