New London City Council missed a chance to heal the city: Mondo QT, 4/4/06

By Carola Solomonoff

Yesterday evening, the New London City Council, in a 5 to 2 vote, missed a chance to heal the city it represents.

It's been roughly 6 years since the New London city government and the quasi-public New London Development Corporation (NLDC) used eminent domain to seize the homes of residents in the modest waterfront neighborhood of Fort Trumbull. The rationale was that the homes stood on land which would produce more tax revenue via an upscale redevelopment.

The use of eminent domain opened a rift in the body politic of New London. Some Fort Trumbull homeowners resisted the "taking". All the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Though the Court, in its Kelo v. New London decision, ultimately let New London and the NLDC's interpretation of "public use" stand, the finding did not bring peace to the city. Plus, people across the nation reacted with revulsion to the ruling, as did a majority of citizens and major media within Connecticut.

In late Summer, 2005, Governor Jodi Rell declared a moratorium on evictions in Fort Trumbull. Since that time, a resolution has been sought that would allow the city to proceed with its redevelopment plans, yet also respect the rights and dignity of the last few remaining homeowners of Fort Trumbull.

At last night's city council meeting, City Councilors William Cornish and Charles Frank of the One New London Party, put forth a proposal that the last occupied homes in Fort Trumbull be moved onto one parcel of the neighborhood's land. The owners would have the deeds to their homes returned, and would pay back taxes from last June. But though the 5 other members of the City Council (New London's main governing body), Mayor Beth Sabilia, and the quasi- public NLDC agree to the homes being moved to the plot — they want the homeowners to lease the buildings from New London and the NLDC. Forcing homeowners to become tenants of local government and a quasi-public agency.

The last standing homeowners of Fort Trumbull have until May 31st to either leave with a monetary settlement (but only after signing a waiver of any future legal action) or stay on as the tenants of those who took their homes. There is some hope Governor Jodi Rell will once again intervene.

Mondo QT: www.mondoQT.com