WASHINGTON – Despite Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s suggested moratorium on eminent domain cases in the state, pending the consideration of new legislation restriction property seizures by local governments, the city of New London has issued eviction notices to homeowners who lost their case before the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark Kelo v. the City of New London ruling.
“They have sent us eviction letters and have given us 90 days to vacate,” homeowner Michael Cristofaro told WND. “As further insult to injury, they are requiring us to send them $600-a-month rent.”
He said the city officials are apparently persuaded the Supreme Court ruling last June is all they need to proceed with their plans to transfer the properties to a private party for development of an office complex.
Cristofaro said he has attempted to contact two members of the city council to see if they are aware of the plans and approve of them.
In the highly controversial Supreme Court decision, the justices ruled 5-4 that the economic development and increased tax revenue resulting from the eminent domain action qualified as “public use” under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.
Though the practice of eminent domain is provided for in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, this case is significant because the seizure is for private development and not for “public use,” such as a highway or bridge. The decision has been roundly criticized by property-rights activists and limited-government commentators.
The city has previously threatened the homeowners with demands for back rent dating to 2000. Officials say that since they won the case, the homeowners actually have been living on city property for the last five years since they first began condemnation procedures.
In addition, buyout offers were based on the market rate in 2000, before most of the growth in the current real-estate bubble.
The New London Development Corporation, the semi-public organization hired by the city to facilitate the deal, first addressed the rent issue in a June 2004 letter to residents, calling the alleged debt retroactive “use and occupancy” payments.
The Kelo case, named after Susette Kelo, who owns a single-family house in New London with her husband, has ignited a national uproar.
One Los Angeles advertising entrepreneur, Logan Darrow Clements, has spearheaded a campaign to have the city of Weare, N.H., condemn Souter’s property, a modest 200-year-old farmhouse on eight acres, in retaliation for his vote approving the seizure of homes in connection with the case.
Clements plans to create on Souter’s land the “Lost Liberty Hotel,” a kind of museum commemorating the lost right to private property in America.
Because the Board of Selectmen of Weare has rejected Clements’ request to condemn the property, Darrow hopes to use a ballot initiative to do the job.