In Kelo's Wake, Property-Rights Advocate Emerges: Connecticut Business Journal, 6/25/07

In the wake of a Connecticut neighborhood's extended property-rights struggle that eventually ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court, Gov. M. Jodi Rell has nominated the state's first property-rights ombudsman.

If confirmed by the General Assembly, Middletown real estate attorney Robert S. Poliner would fill the position, intended as an advocacy post for Connecticut businesses and homeowners.

The office would focus on eminent-domain laws, helping property owners through disputes and legal proceedings, as well as recommending needed changes to existing eminent-domain laws.

In 2005, to the dismay of residents of New London's Fort Trumbull neighborhood who had vowed to remain in homes and businesses slated for demolition, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the city's right to seize the properties for private development via eminent domain.

At issue was whether a local government had the right invoke eminent domain to seize private property for private commercial development - in this case, tearing down and rebuilding a functioning, non-blighted area near a newly built Pfizer plant - as opposed to taking over private property for public use, such as to expand a road or erect a government facility.

The case, Kelo et al. v. City of New London et al., attracted national attention and overwhelming support for Fort Trumbull homeowners and small business proprietors.

The General Assembly established the ombudsman position last year, but it has never been filled.

Poliner's appointment is contingent on legislative approval.

A former state Republican Party chairman, Poliner is a principal with the law firm Poliner, Poliner, Antin & Cienava Rocco, PC. He has represented buyers and sellers of residential, commercial and industrial real estate, as well as developers, banks and finance companies.

His experience includes negotiating and drafting commercial leases and helping businesses secure financing for capital improvements.

Connecticut Business Journal: http://www.conntact.com