Small Business

Connecticut DOT Punches Competition, Consumers in the Face

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Rhode Island-based Coutu Bros. Movers will not be expanding into Connecticut next year because the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) is not satisfied that a new moving company would satisfy "public convenience and necessity." The DOT denied owner Bob Romano's application last spring, citing the "negative effect" a new business would have on two movers operating in the area Romano proposed to service.

From The Day:

Romano's original application had been opposed by two competitors, Atherton & Sons Moving & Storage in Pawcatuck and Barnes Moving & Storage in Mystic, whose owners cited a decline in their own businesses over the past few years. One of the businesses was planning to fight Romano's application again….

Romano said he spent more $6,000 to comply with DOT requirements and was shocked to learn that his initial application was denied by Connecticut hearing officer Sheldon Lubin, whereas Massachusetts approved his application for a license to do business in only 15 minutes.

…Several local officials, including former Republican state Sen. Pierce Connair, a Mystic real estate agent who had been prepared to lease office space in North Stonington to Coutu Movers, pointed out that the DOT decision seemed at odds with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's oft-stated promise that "Connecticut is open for business."

But DOT spokesman Judd Everhart said trying to paint the agency's decision as anti-business was a canard.

"The original denial was based on existing requirements, i.e., that the applicant must demonstrate that there is a need for additional household goods moving services in a specific geographical area of the state," Everhart said in an email. "It had nothing to do with Connecticut not being 'open for business' as the applicant claimed in the past."

Romano decided to cancel a rehearing scheduled for January after DOT staffers demanded additional financial information that was not part of the initial application process and after they lost paperwork. The staffers did successfully deposit the $177 application fee that was included in the same filing.

Take a spin through the Reason archives, where you can read about legal challenges to anti-competitive regulation of moving companies in Nevada and Kentucky and about the repeal of the same in Oregon and Missouri.