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Monday, October 31, 2005

Will eminent domain reform become reality

Will the eminent domain moratorium ever become reality? Will Republicans and Democrats come to a compromise?

From The New London Day

State lawmakers are close to a compromise on eminent domain reform that would put on hold any takings of private property for economic development or blight until the end of the General Assembly's regular session next year.

House Minority Leader Robert Ward, R-North Branford, who has pushed for new restrictions on eminent domain in light of its use in New London's Fort Trumbull redevelopment, said he and key House Democrats tentatively agreed this week to vote on a moratorium during the current special session, and to take up a more substantive overhaul of the pertinent statutes when the legislature reconvenes next year.

The proposed moratorium — which would make mandatory the voluntary prohibition of eminent domain seizures that legislative leaders declared in July — would forbid the city and the New London Development Corp. from forcing the remaining occupants at Fort Trumbull to surrender their properties.

But the deal faces angry opposition from New London's representatives, who see it as a clumsy intrusion into the city's legal battle with the remaining holdouts.

And Senate Democrats have yet to sign off on the moratorium plan, which the co-chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee said would stop short a host of development projects across the state that are unencumbered by the political and legal obstacles of the New London case.

“We are trying to determine whether there is common ground between the House and the Senate on the scope of a potential moratorium,” said the chairman, Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford. “But we have not yet found that common ground.”

A primary sticking point is the breadth of the proposed deal, which would prevent not only economic development takings like those at Fort Trumbull, but also the more traditional use of eminent domain to raze and redevelop blighted neighborhoods.