Critics cause Norwich council to delay eminent domain vote: Norwich CT Bulletin, 9/19/06

By Liz Mugavero

A proposed ordinance to restrict the use of eminent domain on residential property attracted much criticism from the public at a [Norwich CT] City Council meeting Monday that resulted in a proposed amendment and postponed vote.

"Eminent domain is necessary, but should also be used as little as possible and purely for public purpose," resident Pearce Browning said. "I am opposed to condemning land for use by a private business unless it's a matter of public safety. People shouldn't be thrown out of their houses so some company can make money."

Redevelopment Agency Chairman Tom Marien urged the council to reject the ordinance because it could apply to residences whose owners didn't live in them.

Prospect Street resident David Crabb called it an "incomplete proposal," saying small businesses would remain at risk. "More is needed here," he said.

Alderman John Crooks, who proposed the ordinance, proposed an amendment to reflect the concerns voiced by the public.

He suggested a clarification that would define the property eligible for a stricter review to include any house or building with up to six units, at least one of which is owner occupied and used as the owner's private residence.

The property in question would qualify for a super majority vote and review by the Administrative, Planning and Economic Development Committee before the city could take it by eminent domain.

The Council voted 5-2 in favor of the amendment. A public hearing is set for Oct. 16 on the amended ordinance.

Norwich CT Bulletin: http://www.norwichbulletin.com