New London Mulls Timing of Property Seizure
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
One of the Supreme Court's most controversial recent decisions is playing out in New London, Conn., where homeowners whose property the city wants to take for commercial use now find themselves on the receiving end of some conflicting signals.
The people who live in the houses set for seizure by the New London Development Corporation have gotten their notices to move, saying residents must vacate by Dec. 8. But now, the mayor of New London says the letter to vacate should not have been sent out.
"They jumped the gun and their attitude has been jumping the gun a lot and this was like the frosting on the cake," said Mayor Jane Glover.
The eviction notices were allowed when the Supreme Court ruled in Kelo et. al. v. City of New London that the city can seize private property for economic development projects like hotels and office space. The decision was heavily criticized.
The New London City Council has also voted "no confidence" in the Development Corporation and has demanded the agency's president be fired. But none of the recent events has changed the city council's decision to seize the property.
Glover said she still wants the tenants and property owners gone, but only after more bargaining.
"There are 90 acres there to be developed, seven people, maybe 15 dwellings are keeping that economic development from going on," Glover said. "The Supreme Court has given us the authority to just go in with a bulldozer, but I don't think the state of Connecticut or us particularly want to do that, not just because of the tenants but it's just not good politics. We were hoping the people would buy out."
But Richard Beyer, who owns two houses, is fuming.
"This hasn't been about money. This has been about them bullying us around and stripping us of our right to own property," he said.
Although the Supreme Court has ruled for the city, Beyer said he would not yield.
"All of America needs to stand up for their constitutional right to hold their property without a private corporation moving in and kicking them out of their homes for private gain," Beyer said.
With the New London Development Corporation now in turmoil, Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell is getting involved to broker a deal in anticipation of what could be a nasty end to this ongoing debate.