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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Are politicians playing politics with eniment domain?

Are lawmakers going too far in proposing changes to the eniment domain law? That's what some Connecticut municipalities think and they're concerned that lawmakers are just playing politics.

Here's an interesting article from the New Britan Herald.
A group representing Connecticut municipalities warned Monday that state lawmakers may have gone overboard in asking cities and towns for a moratorium on the use of eminent domain to seize properties.

"Eminent domain, properly exercised, is a long-recognized and essential tool of state and local governments," Joel Cogen, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said in letters to legislative leaders and Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

[...]

State House Minority Leader Robert M. Ward, R-North Branford, with the support of Rell, a fellow Republican, has called for a special legislative session to immediately ban the use of eminent domain for such private development.

During the recent legislative session, Republican lawmakers unsuccessfully attempted to limit state and local powers of eminent domain.

Democratic legislative leaders say they need time to study the issue and have planned public hearings for later this month. But they also say they expect the General Assembly will make changes in the eminent domain laws.
In the article, New Haven Mayor accuses Gov. Rell of hypocrisy and raises an interesting point; the biggest taker of land in New Haven is not the city, but the state.
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. accused Rell and Ward of "playing pure politics" with the eminent domain issue. "They’re being hypocritical..because they want this (proposed prohibition on using eminent domain in some cases) to apply to cities and towns but not to the state."

"The biggest taker of property in New Haven has been the state," said DeStefano, who is one of several candidates for the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial nomination. "This is a case of the pot calling the kettle black."

A spokesman for Rell said the governor’s administration would not use eminent domain to take property for economic development purposes until the legislature takes action.

"In the year since Jodi Rell became governor, the state has not taken any land by eminent domain for economic development purposes," said Rell spokesman Judd Everhart. "It is the administration’s intention to abide by a moratorium for economic development."
Hopefully, changes to the law will be done based on a true desire to change the law and not simply to score political points (this is a election year). Again, as I stated before, if the lawmakers in Connecticut were so concerned with eniment domain, where where they when the New London case was going through the courts?