Canterbury group — Limit domain use: Norwich (CT) Bulletin, 2/20/06

By Jessica Durkin

A five-person, non-partisan committee wants the town [of Canterbury CT] to adopt an ordinance to prevent the use of eminent domain to seize property for private development.

The proposed ordinance would act as a layer of protection, according to Eminent Domain Committee Chairman Robert Noiseux, after a Supreme Court ruling last year that allowed the city of New London to seize private property for private economic development.

Noiseux will propose the ordinance Tuesday at the Board of Selectmen meeting.

The draft stipulates the town and its elected officials shall not authorize to propose, approve or spend money on the power of eminent domain to take private property unless the property is for public use.

The proposed ordinance defines public use as property owned by the town and set aside for projects, such as streets, bridges, parkways, transfer stations, schools or preserving open space.

"It would provide another layer, one additional hurdle that they would have to clear," Noiseux said. "Number two: It puts us on the map saying this is a bad idea. Both Hartford and Washington have been saying 'We'll take care of it,' but they haven't."

Noiseux said Canterbury's large land parcels and lack of road frontage make them particularly vulnerable to eminent domain seizures for private industry.

"Say a Lowe's-type of company comes along and they want to build a distribution center and they want a property piece they don't have access to, they can take it by eminent domain," Noiseux said.

George Younger of Woodchuck Road said he would support a local ordinance that restricts eminent domain. He said he would worry about any level of government taking his property.

"I don't think the government has the right to take our land for public (or private) use," Younger said.

Norwich Bulletin: www.norwichbulletin.com