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Cotuit

Fort Trumbull, New London

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Cotuit    0

Last stand

Seven families in New London, Conn., are asking the Supreme Court to prevent the city from taking their houses in the name of economic development.

BY MATT APUZZO Associated Press | February 17, 2005

NEW LONDON, Conn. -- Fifteen houses are all that remain of Fort Trumbull, a once vibrant immigrant neighborhood on the southeastern Connecticut shore. For years, bulldozers have been leveling houses to make way for a city's high hopes: a hotel and convention center, office space and upscale condominiums.

The homes, surrounded now by swaths of rutted grass and gravel, stand in defiance to the project. Refusing to sell or leave, seven families will go before the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday, arguing that their city has no right to take property solely in the name of economic development.

A hodgepodge band of seditionists, the petitioners come from a variety of backgrounds. There's an elderly Italian immigrant, a mechanic, a flooring supplier, a school audio-video worker and a former deli owner.

"It's quite an amalgamation of people to be taking this case where it's going," said Matthew Dery, who lives in one of four houses on a compound his family has owned since 1901. "It's a case of the rich eating the poor. Sometimes the poor are difficult to digest."

Leading the charge is Susette Kelo, a 47-year-old nurse and mother of five boys who bought her apricot-colored home in 1997. With a decorative outhouse in the front yard and wind chimes made of silverware, her house doesn't fit in the city's development plans.

"They have over 90 acres now," Kelo said. "It's more than enough room to build on. We never said they can't build. We just said, 'We want to stay.' "

City officials say that's impossible.

"They just would not be compatible with all the other uses," said Edward O'Connell, an attorney representing the New London Development Corporation, the quasi-public agency behind the redevelopment effort.

He points to Byron Athenian's low-slung black house as an example: "You're going to put up a $20-million hotel next to that?" O'Connell said.

Besides, he said, if a few holdouts can force an entire city to remake its development strategy, cities could never make plans.

Whether building a highway, laying railroad tracks or eliminating

New York used eminent domain to improve Times Square, expand the New York Stock Exchange and build the World Trade Center. Baltimore replaced a downtrodden waterfront with a bustling harbor development.

But Fort Trumbull is not besieged by blight, poverty or crime and New London is not building a highway or government building. The Supreme Court will decide whether governments can take taxpayer property to encourage private development.

City officials say the taxes generated ultimately will benefit the public. The authorities have worked to remake Fort Trumbull since 1996, when the Naval Undersea Warfare Center left town with its 1,400 jobs.

When pharmaceutical giant Pfizer opened a $350-million research center nearby that year, city officials saw an opportunity to create high-end housing, retail shops, a business park and a hotel.

All that was standing in the way were 115 homes.

Faced with the choice of a check from the city or a drawn-out court battle, most people took the money. Ninety houses were leveled, most almost immediately. Those that remain fall into two categories -- people who simply won't leave and people who feel they're being cheated out of fair value for their homes.

"The sentimental holdouts are the more difficult to deal with," O'Connell said. "No matter what you offer, they won't consider that sufficient or appropriate. They're just not motivated by the logic of the marketplace."

Kelo says that for her, it's not about the money. She was raised nearby and when her children moved out, she wanted a house by the water. It's small but cozy, with a turtle shell and fly fishing rods decorating her living room and a painted metal milk can on her front porch. From there, she has a great view of the Thames River.

For William Von Winkle, Fort Trumbull is his retirement plan. He rents out two houses and lives in a third, a real-estate investment that pays his bills. He spends his days repairing motorcycles down by the local fish market, checking on his properties and generally enjoying the view.

"I have it pretty well licked," Von Winkle said.

He said the city's offer doesn't account for the money he's making off his property and wouldn't allow him to buy a comparable lifestyle elsewhere. Ditto for James Guretsky, who also owns three houses and plans to retire on the income from their rent.

One of the toughest things for Dery to accept is that New London doesn't know for sure what will replace his neighborhood. The city has a plan, but no developer is under contract to complete it.

But O'Connell said that will come once the land has been cleared.

"What they're saying," Dery said, "is that anything that we put there will be better than you."

From The Providence Journal

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damus    0

http://www.boston.com/news/local/connectic...umbull_dispute/

Most of the neighborhood has been razed but a handful of homeowners refuse to leave. They'd be kicked out of their homes if a deal wasn't reached by Wednesday.

But since the City Council, which would need to approve any action, doesn't meet until Monday, an attorney for the homeowners says Wednesday's deadline isn't set in stone.

"Nothing is going to happen one way or the other tomorrow," Bullock said.

If a deal isn't reached -- and Bullock said one is not imminent -- city attorneys could file eviction papers in court, which would prolong the yearlong case, Bullock said.

It's a real small world. Sussette Kelo used to live three doors down the road from here, and now her kids own that house.

What has this country come to? These people are being kicked out of their house for a hotel, convention center, museum, and I forget what else. Everyone should be concerned about this case. Before you know it peoples homes will be taken so well-connected politicians (public official, public use) can build their homes. I wish New Hampshire was still going after Justice Souter's house. This is complete bullsh*t.

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damus    0

The Mayor, the city council, the NLDC, and the 5 "liberal" judges in the Supreme Court should be removed and put in jail for this... The founding fathers are spinning in their graves. This is ANOTHER act of government abuse.

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JimSawhill    0

The Mayor, the city council, the NLDC, and the 5 "liberal" judges in the Supreme Court should be removed and put in jail for this... The founding fathers are spinning in their graves. This is ANOTHER act of government abuse.

darius:

VERY ABUSIVE!! Here, one town would like to raize half of itself to build a marina for superyachts, but the residents in the area are mostly minority, along with the mayor (who house is at the edge of the redevelopment plan), but the mayor said it will help the town. The homes that were 'Distressed' were beautiful homes - painted in pastal colors -- with nice landscaping. Jeb said the town can't take the homes for a marina.

Jodi Rell, tell New London that PRIVATE PROPERTY is not for the taking!!

Jim Sawhill

Kelso, don't give up!!! Fort Trumbell lives...

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damus    0

Last stand for property-rights activists

Seven longtime residents of the city's Fort Trumbull neighborhood took their battle to save their homes all the way to the US Supreme Court. Now, nearly a year after the high court upheld the city's eminent domain power in a controversial 5-to-4 decision, two families are still fighting eviction. Efforts to negotiate a compromise appear to have ended.

On Monday, the New London City Council voted 5 to 2 to authorize the city attorney to obtain a court order to seize and demolish the homes of Susette Kelo and Michael Cristofaro.

....

New London Mayor Elizabeth Sabilia says it is time for the city to move forward with its plan to develop the proposed hotel and office complex. "We're seeking possession of the property," she says.

I think it's great that Cristofaro's 81 year old father is willing to handcuff himself to the property if they come. This will go down as one of the worst supreme court decisions ever.

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The supreme court was correct. The state was wrong. Without allowing any type of eminent domain for revitalization purposes Times Square and Baltimore's Inner Harbor would both still be sh!tty today. I'm not gonna get into how it was applied in New London, but the supreme court ruling was constitutional in my opinion.

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damus    0

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. - 5th Amendment, US Constitution

the folowing from the wikipedia

The development corporation created a development plan that included a resort hotel and conference center, a new state park, 80

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No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. - 5th Amendment, US Constitution

the folowing from the wikipedia

The development corporation created a development plan that included a resort hotel and conference center, a new state park, 80

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damus    0

Where will this stop? I will get no use out of a hotel/convention center or the condos. Most people won't. This is not public use. It's a slippery slope. Some day if we keep thinking like this our public officials will be taking prime real estate to build their homes. Public offical voted in by the public, public use.

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Where will this stop? I will get no use out of a hotel/convention center or the condos. Most people won't. This is not public use. It's a slippery slope. Some day if we keep thinking like this our public officials will be taking prime real estate to build their homes. Public offical voted in by the public, public use.

And to me that's a rather large stretch. I'll believe it when I see it regarding public officials using eminent domain to build their own estates.

I might get some use out of both, I'm the public. Maybe even the condos, who knows? They have been using eminent domain for these types of projects forever, that's the other issue. The precedent was that this had been used over and over again. They tried to make it seem like this was something new, but it was far from it. What do you think "urban renewal" was?

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JimSawhill    0

The supreme court was correct. The state was wrong. Without allowing any type of eminent domain for revitalization purposes Times Square and Baltimore's Inner Harbor would both still be sh!tty today. I'm not gonna get into how it was applied in New London, but the supreme court ruling was constitutional in my opinion.

Tycoon:

WHAT!!! Sorry, Eminent Domain is NOT GOOD if the GOVERNMENT gives it to a DEVELOPER who'll use it to PRODUCE MORE TAXES. Here in Florida, a whole town is being FORCED to move because the GOVERNMENT (in this case Palm Beach COUNTY) wants to build a YACHT CLUB and CONDOS it its place. The affected area is 65% MINORITY. The 'BLIGHTED HOMES' are homes built in the 1960s and early 70s. The homes are mostly retirees, but they aren't BLIGHTED.

If Perez told you to move out of your home and your business, because he will get the city more taxes then your will give him you'd leave?

If we don't have PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS, we aren't a FREE COUNTRY.

Jim

Where will this stop? I will get no use out of a hotel/convention center or the condos. Most people won't. This is not public use. It's a slippery slope. Some day if we keep thinking like this our public officials will be taking prime real estate to build their homes. Public offical voted in by the public, public use.

Damus:

Eminent Domain is in TROUBLE!! I hope Rell will stop it!

Jim

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Cotuit    0

The supreme court was correct.

I agree, I think the Supreme Court interpretted the law and Constitution correctly. I do however think there is room for the states to decide how far they want to go. The Supreme Court says the states have the right to seize land, but does not say that the states can't decide to restrict their own rights.

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damus    0

I don't get it. This area was not blighted. The end result is not public use in the form of a park, school, government building, or a highway among other true public projects. Most of this will be private development like condos, with a tiny parcel being where the Coast Guard Museum is going to be going.

How is the uprooting of an entire middle class neighborhood for the sake of providing more tax revenue justifyable? If that's the case, Providence should start reposessing most of its neighborhoods. I don't see how my "slippery slope" comment about this to be that outrageous considering the way that public use is being defined and how they're taking away middle class neighborhoods because they're too "blighted". It actually makes more sense to put a camp david style retreat for the Mayor of New London than it does to put up condos and call it "public use". The public votes for the Mayor, they do not choose who builds and moves into the condos.

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I don't get it. This area was not blighted. The end result is not public use in the form of a park, school, government building, or a highway among other true public projects. Most of this will be private development like condos, with a tiny parcel being where the Coast Guard Museum is going to be going.

How is the uprooting of an entire middle class neighborhood for the sake of providing more tax revenue justifyable? If that's the case, Providence should start reposessing most of its neighborhoods. I don't see how my "slippery slope" comment about this to be that outrageous considering the way that public use is being defined and how they're taking away middle class neighborhoods because they're too "blighted". It actually makes more sense to put a camp david style retreat for the Mayor of New London than it does to put up condos and call it "public use". The public votes for the Mayor, they do not choose who builds and moves into the condos.

But it's not uprooting a whole neighborhood. The neighborhood uprooted itself when the hundreds of other residents took the money and split, without eminent domain. What you are left with was 7 holdouts. Now I think it's 2 or 3. That's not a neighborhood, not saying they don't matter, but don't exaggerate.

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damus    0

But it's not uprooting a whole neighborhood. The neighborhood uprooted itself when the hundreds of other residents took the money and split, without eminent domain. What you are left with was 7 holdouts. Now I think it's 2 or 3. That's not a neighborhood, not saying they don't matter, but don't exaggerate.

If some rich guy comes along to your neighborhood and wants to put in a shopping mall, starts buying everyone out with the exception of a few holdouts, he could get the city involved and take the rest. With this precedent, the poor get nothing and the rich and powerful can get whatever they want no matter what. The city started buying the properties with the intention of uprooting the neighborhood, which is wrong but not illegal. Then, in violation of some of the principles of the founding fathers, they took starting taking away the property of the individuals who cared about the property enough to stick around and fight for their rights. One of America's most sacred freedoms has been the right to own property. They admired the likes of John Locke Adam Smith, who coined the phase "life, liberty, and the persuit of property".

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If some rich guy comes along to your neighborhood and wants to put in a shopping mall, starts buying everyone out with the exception of a few holdouts, he could get the city involved and take the rest. With this precedent, the poor get nothing and the rich and powerful can get whatever they want no matter what. The city started buying the properties with the intention of uprooting the neighborhood, which is wrong but not illegal. Then, in violation of some of the principles of the founding fathers, they took starting taking away the property of the individuals who cared about the property enough to stick around and fight for their rights. One of America's most sacred freedoms has been the right to own property. They admired the likes of John Locke Adam Smith, who coined the phase "life, liberty, and the persuit of property".

Well there's no way I'm so attached to my neighborhood that I would be a holdout and live in a wasteland of bulldozed properties. So I wouldn't have to worry about it. It would be sad, but I would get over it. And if the new mall or whatever was a catalyst for change in the North End of Hartford, I would actually be overjoyed. Even though a private development made the difference and I had to move. I grew up in my house, but it's not like it has family history or anything prior to my lifetime. I guess I can understand when you are talking about people who have lived in a house for generations. Other than that, I just don't get it. It just doesn't seem worth it. Personally I would sell the house and buy one of those great new condos they're building. Especially if I was an empty nester.

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