We Said 'No New Takings'


The Institute for Justice reports that Connecticut's New London Development Corporation has reneged on a promise to leave the remaining property owners in the city's Fort Trumbull neighborhood unmolested until the state legislature settles on rules to govern the use of eminent domain. In July, after the Supreme Court approved the NLDC's plan to seize Fort Trumbull and turn it over to private developers, Gov. M. Jodi Rell and state legislative leaders called for an eminent domain moratorium until legislators have time to consider whether condemnation should be permitted for redevelopment purposes. The NLDC agreed. Yet this week, I.J. reports, at least two Fort Trumbull residents "received notices (dated September 9, 2005) that they must vacate the properties in 90 days and must start paying rent to the NLDC during that period."

The NLDC now claims its "voluntary moratorium" applied only to new condemnations. I.J. cites a July 26 A.P. story that indicates otherwise:

Fresh off a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court that allowed the seizing of property for private development, a New London agency has agreed to hold off on construction plans while state lawmakers consider limiting eminent domain powers.

Michael Joplin, president of the New London Development Corp., told The Day of New London that his agency will allow houses in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood to stand while the legislature takes up the eminent domain issue.

State lawmakers have asked all local governments in Connecticut to refrain from seizing property for private development until they decide whether such action should be allowed.

Although the Supreme Court, in its 5-4 decision last month, ruled that New London could take homes in Fort Trumbull to build a privately owned hotel and office space, the court also said states are free to ban the taking of property for such projects. States across the country are now considering such bans.

Because the state had previously sanctioned the city's use of eminent domain for Fort Trumbull, it was unclear whether lawmakers could make New London delay its plans.

"We are going to abide by the moratorium," Joplin said.

But city officials added that they were in no hurry to remove the Fort Trumbull owners from their property when lawmakers asked for the moratorium.