Plainfield voters nix eminent domain: Norwich CT Bulletin, 11/30/06

Residents say 'there's no need' for it

By John Penney

[Plainfield CT] Residents Wednesday approved an ordinance banning the use of eminent domain.

"There's no need for developers to take residential property in this town," said Nick Bolanis, 46. "Especially with large commercial tracts available in town."

The eight residents who attended the five-minute meeting unanimously supported the ordinance, which states the town shall not use the power of eminent domain for economic development.

The ordinance also says any town meeting authorizing the use of eminent domain for economic development shall be deemed void and without authority.

"This is the first step toward an extra layer of protection," said First Selectman Kevin Cunningham, who campaigned on an anti-eminent domain platform. "Developers will have to negotiate with individuals, without using the threat of eminent domain as a means to profit."

According to Cunningham, the idea for the ordinance sprang from the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Kelo v. New London, which allowed municipalities to seize private property for commercial or economic development use.

Since the Supreme Court decision, several towns, including Putnam, Orange and Canterbury, have enacted eminent domain restrictions, mainly as a response to the negative backlash stemming from the ruling.

Shelley Hopkins, who spearheaded the town's Eminent Domain Committee, said she was pleased with Wednesday's vote.

"We just want to make sure what happened in New London doesn't happen here," Hopkins said.

The ordinance will take effect 15 days after official publication.

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