Eminent Domain?

13Jan15
Council Powers

Council Powers

Stratford looking to loosen eminent domain laws
By Stephanie Simoni, WTNH Reporter Published: January 12, 2015, 6:44 pm

“STRATFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– The Stratford Town Council is looking to loosen their eminent domain law at a meeting Monday night. Members are asking their constituents, “Right now, is economic development such a high priority that they want us to have that power, or would they rather not?”
Town Attorney Tim Bishop said the town had a knee-jerk reaction in 2006, after the owner of a little pink house took on New London at the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo vs. the City of New London. The Justices decided it was legal for a municipality to take private property for economic development purposes. In light of this, Stratford’s Town Council passed a statute.
“This statute basically told the public that here in Stratford we’ll never do that,” said Bishop.

Now, council member Jason Santi is exploring the idea of loosening the law. The town attorney didn’t detail which land they’re interested in, if any. http://wtnh.com/2015/01/12/stratford-looking-to-loosen-eminent-domain-laws/”

Remember the Woody Guthrie song, “This land is your land”? Well, not so fast there. It will be the Council’s land if this harebrained scheme goes through. What the proposal seeks to change are the restrictions (Yes, almost all of them.) placed on the Council’s power of Eminent Domain. So rather than seize land for the public good, any land (like yours) can be seized if there is a developer that has a couple of councilmen, a Registrar of Voters or a mayor in his pocket.

Perhaps we should contact Mr. Santi (jsanti@townofstratford.com, 203-522-4220) and tell him it’s not that we don’t trust the Council or mayor…wait a minute! Actually, it is because we don’t trust the Council or the mayor.

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20 Responses to “Eminent Domain?”

  1. I can’t use the words that come to mind as it would upset my mother but you can fill in the blanks in your mind as we don’t want to upset your mothers either. I can see very few reasons for eminent domain to ever be tolerated and economic development is not one of them. This town has enough problems keeping and attracting businesses here and should concentrate on filling existing buildings and spaces with viable new businesses. By the way I am not talking about Pizza places, we have more than enough good ones. We will be needing a new movie theater since we are losing that to the fitness club that has pushed out that business even though the same property had a Bally’s that couldn’t be sustained and Crunch fitness opened down the road. Please leave our properties alone!

  2. 2 jezebel282

    Lee Anne,

    They probably have a couple of nice properties all picked out.

  3. 3 matpcat

    I asked that very question last night. No answer. You can be sure there is something. This is very dangerous territory to travel and we can not grant this authority to the government. Especially this government.

  4. 4 jezebel282

    Matt,

    Amazingly, in only took Gavin Forrester (R-7th District) minutes within taking his Council seat to vote in favor of keeping Eminent Domain alive when he could have easily killed it. Voters in the 7th District should be proud. Oh wait…they didn’t vote for him did they?

    “Councilmen voting in favor of keeping the eminent domain proposal alive and moving it for public hearing were: Peter Massey, Santi, Brian Dempsey, Gavin Forrester, and Jim Connor.” http://www.stratfordstar.com/31995/town-considers-expanding-its-power-to-take-property/

  5. 5 matpcat

    The Mayor voted to move it to ordinance too, Jez. He had to break the tie.

  6. 6 jezebel282

    Matt,

    Well, nothing gets put forward unless Harkins & Decilio want it. And they’ve been there longer than 15 minutes.

  7. 7 jezebel282

    Update:

    “…unless the Town Council shall determine that it is in the best interest of the Town to do so and that some public improvement results from such acquisition.”

    And who would determine what “the best interest of the Town” would be? Why the Republican Town Committee Council and mayor. That’s who. Apparently they only need 5 votes and the mayor.

    “Some public improvement” like a street light or a stop sign?

    Better wording would be “whenever we feel like it.”

  8. 8 Rockannand

    What a crock of $#!t. Now we have 3 terrible deals that DeCilio and Harkins are trying to shove down our throats. Now we know why Gavin’s property was slipped into the 7th district during recent redistricting, so he could vote on crappy proposals like eminent domain. I guess this group of Councilman do not care about how they will be remembered when they are no longer serving themselves, er I mean the Town. That’s the beauty of social media. It leaves an indelible footprint out there to let their friends and family members know what a wonderful job they did while in office when their names are Googled.

  9. I used to laugh when I read the Star with all the bickering and silly lawsuits. I don’t laugh anymore and while I love Stratford and my neighbors I really am thinking our family should leave.:(

  10. 10 ronmoreau

    EVERY private property owner in town should be very wary that this proposed ordnance has gone this far. After all the 18 hole private golf course in town would not be exempt. You could put a lot of housing on the tax rolls with that pristine property.

  11. 11 ronmoreau

    It would require only 6 votes on the town council.

  12. 12 Lisa Donnelly

    For what its worth, maybe Greg will publish this one…..

    Wow! Some members of our Town Council just don’t get it. I attended the public forum prior to the Town Council meeting this past Monday night and there is no denying that those Town Council members present heard our voices loud and clear yet it appears they are just dumb, deaf and blind to what the residents of this town have to say. If they did pay attention, the whole eminent domain issue would have been killed during the Town Council meeting portion or during Executive Session. It is obvious that certain members of the Town Council, Mayor Harkins included, need to be reminded of the fact that they were elected to represent their constituents and not just their political supporters, friends and family. I took issue with Council Chairman Kubic’s remarks at the onset of the meeting asking the audience to be respectful of their time and that they have families and outside commitments. Well Mr. Kubic, I too have a family and outside commitments in addition to a job. What makes your situation so much more important and deserving of the audience’s respect than the rest of us? Given the outright rude behavior Mr. Kubic bestowed upon many of the speakers Monday night perhaps if he as Council Chairman were to show some respect it would then be reciprocated. Additionally, Council members should be respectful of their constituents during the public forum portion of the meeting by either silencing or shutting their cell phones off and giving their undivided attention to all who speak. Example given, Councilman Connor received a phone call, got up and left during the Public Forum. Talk about respect. It’s a slap in the face and shows a complete lack of interest and disregard for what we as residents have to say. Do as I say, not as I do seems to be a good mantra for the leaders of this town now doesn’t it?

  13. 13 Rockannand

    Great piece Lisa. Cubic has absolutely no bedside manners. He feels that public forum is a waste of his time and acts accordingly. Has it occurred to him and others that the fact that we have to come to these forums to raise concern over these questionable proposals is a huge time waster for us?

    They operate in secret sessions, cancel committee meetings if they think citizens will show up to find out what they are doing, lack transparency on most things they do and the list goes on and on.

    Speakers were spot on all night Monday. And the Star’s account was well done for once. I guess Greg Reilly is finally seeing and experiencing what we have been going through for years.

  14. 15 jezebel282

    Update:

    Deserving of a reprint:

    “Kudos to the five Town Council members who voted for stopping this change: Matthew Catalano, Ken Poisson, Paul Hoydick, Joseph Kubic, and Stephanie Philips. And shame on those who voted in favor of pursuing it: Jason Santi (the sponsor), James Connor, Brian Dempsey, Peter Massey, Gavin Forrester, and Mayor Harkins.”
    -Andrew Strassman
    http://www.stratfordstar.com/32059/voice-opposition-to-expanding-towns-power-to-take-property/

    “…unless the Town Council shall determine that it is in the best interest of the Town to do so and that some public improvement results from such acquisition.”

    It is hard to believe that any elected or appointed official in any municipal government would vote in favor of such a poorly worded and broad motion such as this. Stated again, this proposal pretty much says that you can use your own money to buy land/property in Stratford and that the Town Council can then simply take it away if they, and only they, decide there is some “best interest” of the Town served by doing so. Of course, what that best interest is would be decided by the Council. After seizing your property, the Council can then turn it over to whomever they wish. Like a competitor, a developer, your neighbor or whoever. The bar here is set only inches above the ground.

    Thus, we wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Strassman:

    “shame on those who voted in favor of pursuing it: Jason Santi (the sponsor), James Connor, Brian Dempsey, Peter Massey, Gavin Forrester, and Mayor Harkins.”

  15. 16 stfdprofessor1

    It appears Gavin is really cozying up to the RTC string pullers…appointment to Council…Chairman of the Council next?…THEN the endorsement for mayor when sleazeboy Johnny gets caught with four pairs of shoes under his desk again.

  16. 17 stfdprofessor1

    “I’m a Republican, no a Democrat, no a Republican…wait a minute I’m a Forrester and I support whatever benefits ME at the moment.” HAAAAAAHAAAHAAAHaaahaaaha Stratford politics, what a transparent joke (on all of us taxpayers)!!!! Shame on you Gavin, it appears all it cost you was a backbone.

  17. 18 Casey

    Isn’t the RTC made up of mostly former Ds (flip floppers)? It’s just a matter of optics where Santi is concerned. He will go the way of Fuller, Forrester and Fredette (the “F-that” triplets) soon enough. He certainly thinks like one of them. Speaking of Santi, there is no way in heck that I’d trust a blight ordinance-obsessive compulsive to determine which property he and his fellow RTC inmates deem “in the best interest of the town” to hijack.

  18. 19 shanliss

    I will leave it to the folly forensics experts at this site to answer the obvious question after Monday evening’s Ordinance Committee hearing: Why the hell did Poisson not cancel it? Has he gone off the rails? Jumped out of the fishbowl (sorry)? Testing the resolve of citizen groups such as For Stratford and the Ladies of Stratford? Didn’t want to reschedule to a night with a sporting event? Has a set of very good snow tires, and damn the torpedoes? And, who’s taking bets if this E. D. malady resurfaces among our merry crew on Council?

  19. 20 jezebel282

    Shanliss,

    This is indeed one of the stranger episodes conducted by our Town Council. To first vote to hold a “hearing” and then to hold that hearing when the Governor of the State has closed the roads and every recommendation from anyone was to stay at home and not venture out only to vote nearly unanimously to kill the ridiculous proposal that should have never garnered a single yes vote in the first pace is just mystifying.

    Let us remember that the Town already has the right of eminent domain. But that power is limited to land/property for the public good only. This ludicrous proposal would have expanded that power to “whatever!”.

    This particular exercise was simply embarrassing. It got the attention of nearly every media outlet within 50 miles making the Town look, well, stupid. It was embarrassing to the Council, the Town Attorney and the mayor. Nothing new there. But it was also embarrassing to the Stratford voters that put them there.

    But not to fear. The Council, Town Attorney and mayor still have plenty of chances to embarrass the voters. There is still the WPCA and Shakespeare Theater…


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