Posts filed under ‘Eminent Domain’
The End of an Eminent Domain Error:
Pfizer R&D Headquarters Closes in New London, Conn.
Land Taken in Infamous Kelo Supreme Court Case Remains Empty More Than Four Years After Ruling
Arlington, Va.—Pfizer, Inc., announced today that the company will be closing its former research and development headquarters in New London, Conn. This was a project that involved massive corporate welfare and led to the abuse of eminent domain that ultimately bulldozed the home of Susette Kelo and her neighbors in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London.
This was the same bogus development plan that five justices of the U.S. Supreme Court refused to question when the property owners of New London pleaded to have their homes spared from the wrecking ball. Justices mentioned that there was a plan in place, and that so long as lawmakers who are looking to use eminent domain for someone’s private gain had a plan, the courts would wash their hands. Now, more than four years after the redevelopment scheme passed constitutional muster—allowing government to take land from one private owner only to hand that land over to another private party who happens to have more political influence—the plant that had been the magnet for the development is closing its doors and the very land where Susette Kelo’s home once stood remains barren to all but feral cats, seagulls and weeds.
Scott Bullock, who argued the Kelo case for the Institute for Justice on behalf of the New London homeowners, said, “Today’s announcement that Pfizer is closing its research facility in New London demonstrates the folly of government plans that involve massive corporate welfare and that abuse eminent domain for private development. The majority opinion in Kelo v. New London described the Fort Trumbull project as a ‘carefully considered’ plan, but it has been an unmitigated disaster from start—and now—to finish.”
Bullock continued, “Project supporters blame the economic downturn for this turn of events. That is all the more reason why taxpayer dollars should not be put at risk in speculative and risky development schemes.”
Despite the Court’s Kelo ruling, much change for the good has occurred.
Dana Berliner, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice and co-counsel in the Kelo case, said, “In the face of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo ruling, 43 states have now reformed their laws to better protect property owners. What’s more, seven state high courts have stepped in post-Kelo to protect the rights of homeowners against eminent domain abuse. The high courts of Hawaii, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Missouri, New Jersey and Rhode Island have all ruled in favor of property owners and against eminent domain for private gain. None has made Kelo the rule under their own state constitutions.”
The tragic saga of the Kelo case is detailed in Jeff Benedict’s book Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage (Grand Central Publishing; 2009). In it, Benedict shares with readers how Kelo took on the City of New London, a cast of politically powerful villains and, ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case that sparked a revolutionary change nationwide in eminent domain laws—except in Connecticut.
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Director of Activism and Coalitions
Institute for Justice
901 N. Glebe Road, Suite 900
Arlington, VA 22203
(703) 682-9321 – fax
by Loraine Ritchey email@example.com
ED NOTE: Seemingly you don’t need a gun but a proclamation of “public use” or “private development” to rob you of your home and property in Haverstraw New York.
I have written about Bruce’s fight to keep his family land out of the clutches of the Haverstraw City Council over the last three years:
“several years back Haverstraw(Village-LR) created an Urban Renewal Area (Blight designation -LR) to promote redevelopment of largely abandoned industrial sites on its Hudson waterfront. As part of that designation the village can use Eminent Domain Laws to condemn property” Bob Baird – The (Westchester, Rockland& Putnam NY) Journal News 2/27/05
Bruce’s land is not an abandoned industrial site, far from it and even though Bruce has his own developer ready to develop his property , Mayor Wassmer has said NO!
In fact, they only want to use their developer “Ginsberg” who has offered the equivalent of the selling price of “one” of his units in phase one of his development, which sell between $600,000 and 1 million. Kanner states he was offered “the price of one unit for something he’s going to build 150 units on!”
After thousand of dollars and hours the City of Haverstraw “took” the land for Private Development- Bruce sent me this today FEBRUARY 10th 2009
The Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution says:
“nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
In March 2008 the property was taken by eminent domain from the owners in Haverstraw, NY. The plan was to build luxury housing along the Hudson River Waterfront of nearly 10 acres. The owners have not been given ANY compensation to date.
Apparently the Village of Haverstraw believes that the founders of the Constitution had this in mind when they used the term “public use” in the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution.
ED NOTE what followed was a photo of a make shift “lean too” that was being used by the homeless. and the following caption by Kathy Gardner of the Journal News- Picture and full story can be found here
A homeless man was camping on the grounds of a former chair factory in Haverstraw until last month. Friends believe the man has gone to stay with family in Orange County after a fire destroyed the shelter he had constructed of tarps and plywood.
The Village of Haverstraw it seems has a “use” for Kanner’s acres and so did New London – trouble is that Kelo’s former home site is still vacant and UN-USED!!!!
As you know, Susette’s little pink house and the homes of her neighbors were seized through eminent domain in a landgrab sanctioned by the U.S. Supreme Court. New London promised to put a glitzy new private development project on the land, but now, nearly four years after the ruling and $78 million in taxpayer money spent, literally nothing has been built on the land; it remains vacant, the neighborhood bulldozed.
Susette Kelo and Jeff Benedict, author of “Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage,” will appear on Hannity tonight between 9 and 10pm EST on the Fox News Channel. As you know, Susette’s little pink house and the homes of her neighbors were seized through eminent domain in a landgrab sanctioned by the U.S. Supreme Court. New London promised to put a glitzy new private development project on the land, but now, nearly four years after the ruling and $78 million in taxpayer money spent, literally nothing has been built on the land; it remains vacant, the neighborhood bulldozed.
We hope you can tune in tonight to hear about Susette’s courageous battle that sparked a nationwide property rights movement.
Texas Developer Files Lawsuits
To Bulldoze Freedom of the Press
Targets Include Book Author, Publisher, Law Professor Richard Epsteinand Newspapers that Published Book Review
Dallas, Texas—In perhaps the most striking example of a disturbing national trend, Dallas developer H. Walker Royall has launched a lawsuit spree to silence any media or public affairs commentator who dares expose his attempted abuse of eminent domain. Similar suits have been filed in Tennessee, Missouri and elsewhere by developers and governments looking to silence critics of eminent domain for private gain.
Royall worked with the city of Freeport, Texas, to try to condemn a generations-old shrimp business owned by the Gore family to make way for a luxury marina. The project became the subject of the book, Bulldozed: “Kelo,” Eminent Domain, and the American Lust for Land, authored by veteran legal journalist Carla Main. Bulldozed tells the story of Freeport’s plan to take the Gore’s waterfront property for Royall’s luxury marina development project. Only hours after the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Kelo v. City of New London eminent domain abuse decision, the city instructed its attorneys to redouble their efforts to seize the Gore family business. Bulldozed unravels why, after years of litigation, the threat of condemnation continues to hang over the Gores. The book was reviewed in many newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, was nominated for the Texas Historical Commission’s annual T.R. Fehrenbach Book Award and it won a highly competitive independent press award for political science writing.
After journalist Main wrote her book exposing the Freeport land grab, Royall sued her as well as her publisher, Encounter Books, for defamation. He even sued nationally renowned Law Professor Richard Epstein who wrote a blurb for the book’s dust jacket. When someone reviewed the book, he sued him. When two newspapers published that review, he sued them.
Today (Wednesday, December 10, 2008), the Institute for Justice Texas Chapter (IJ-TX) filed a notice of appearance with the Dallas County District Court in order to vindicate the right of author Main, her publisher and Professor Epstein to freely debate eminent domain abuse.
“Rather than try to defend his indefensible effort to have the government take someone’s land for his private development project, H. Walker Royall sues and sues and sues and sues,” said Matt Miller, executive director of the Institute for Justice Texas Chapter, which is defending the book’s author, the publisher and law professor Epstein.
Earlier, when the Gores—the original victims of Royall’s eminent domain abuse effort in Freeport—complained against Royall’s actions, he sued them for defamation. That lawsuit is ongoing.
Main is a veteran journalist who was an associate editor of The National Law Journal, where she edited the opinion page and wrote a column on law and society. She wrote for The Wall Street Journal, Policy Review, National Review, The American Lawyer and The New York Sun, among other publications. Before becoming a journalist, Main practiced as an attorney in New York City for ten years.
“The book was a labor of love,” said Main. “I researched it meticulously and gave Mr. Royall multiple opportunities to be interviewed. His primary complaint about the book seems to be that I described him as participating in an economic development taking, which he did.”
Richard Epstein is the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, where he has taught since 1972. He also teaches at the New York University School of Law. Epstein has published 14 books. His Torts and Cases and Materials on Torts textbooks are widely used in law schools across the country. In 1985, Epstein published Takings: Private Property and Eminent Domain, a book about the Fifth Amendment and the limits of the government’s power to use eminent domain to take private property. The book has been cited four times by the U.S. Supreme Court. Takings is an essential book in the debate about eminent domain and property rights in America.
Epstein was sued by Royall over a small blurb on the back cover of Bulldozed. Epstein said, “It is a sad day in the life of America when a powerful individual like H. Walker Royall, who has complete access to the media, thinks that the appropriate response to criticism is to remain silent and then to bring a defamation action against those who comment on his deeds.” Writing an admiring blurb is not something Epstein ever expected would get him sued. “There are few times in my professional career when I’ve been flabbergasted and this is definitely one of them,” said Epstein, who has been a law professor for more than 40 years. Epstein’s blurb reads, in its entirety:
“Like a Greek tragedy unfolding, Carla Main’s book chronicles the eminent domain struggles in Freeport, Texas, which pitted the Gore family, with its longtime shrimp business, against the machinations of an unholy alliance between city politicians and avaricious developers. If you have ever shared the Supreme Court’s unquestioned deference to the public planning process that shaped its ill-fated Kelo decision, you’ll surely change your mind as you follow this sordid saga to its bitter end. You’ll never look at eminent domain in the same way again.”
Encounter Books is a non-profit publisher that promotes democratic culture with a catalogue of award-winning and important books. Encounter Books has more than 100 titles on topics including religion, military affairs, Greek civilization and current events. Roger Kimball, president and publisher of Encounter Books, also publishes The New Criterion magazine. Kimball said, “There is the First Amendment, which I think is very much at stake in this case. There is also the broader issue of public education.”
“Eminent domain for private gain is the subject of nationwide public debate,” said senior attorney Dana Berliner, who was co-counsel in the Kelo case and who will help direct this litigation. “If Walker Royall didn’t want anyone to talk about him or his development deals, he shouldn’t have made a deal to develop a private marina using public money and someone else’s land. The Constitution protects people who talk about important issues like eminent domain abuse by governments and private developers. If developers don’t want people writing about them, then they shouldn’t be involved with government’s abuse of eminent domain.”
The freedom to learn about eminent domain abuse is also at stake because Royall is asking the court to stop the presses on Bulldozed, preventing anyone else from reading the book. “Mr. Royall should tell the public why he doesn’t like Carla Main’s book, rather than try to censor it,” said Wesley Hottot, an IJ-TX staff attorney.
Founded in 1991, the Virginia-based Institute for Justice fought the landmark legal battle to protect property rights in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing Kelo v. City of New London in 2005. The Institute has successfully defended eminent domain abuse activists sued for speaking out in St. Louis, Mo., Clarksville, Tenn., and Renton, Wash.
Institute for Justice
901 N. Glebe Road, Suite 900
Arlington, VA 22203
Susette Kelo – NOT FOR SALE!!!
People have suffered like Susette Kelo ” I wake from sleep exhausted” . The notoriety the fighting in the highest courts in the land and then for most of the population it is out of sight and out of mind – until it happens to you . LORAIN DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?
an old, tired city, much of whose population has moved out over the years, and not some sort of hip place with a scenic, historical, or commercial cachet that is likely to draw visitors and trendy, affluent would-be residents
Post Kelo. Whatever happened to the New London, CT redevelopment project?
By Larry Gilbert http://orangejuiceblog.com/
As a long time supporter of private property rights, and having met Susette Kelo and the Cristofaro’s whose names are known around the globe, I try to stay up to date with the redevelopment project for which they lost their homes based on the disastrous June 2005 US Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Kelo Vs. New London.
Following is an Op-ed from Professor Gideon Kanner, an LA colleague who has extensive years of experience fighting “eminent domain” takings.
In the majority court opinion of Kelo Vs. the city of New London they avoid the question of economic performance of the project in stating:
“A constitutional rule that required postponement of the judicial approval of every condemnation until the likelihood of success of the plan had been assured would unquestionably impose a significant impediment to the successful consummation of many such plans. Just as we decline to second-guess the City’s considered judgments about the efficacy of its development plan, we also decline to second-guess the City’s determinations as to what lands it needs to acquire in order to effectuate the project. “It is not for the courts to oversee the choice of the boundary line nor to sit in review on the size of a particular project area.”
Professor Kanner’s Op-ed on the current status of New London follows.
Yes, Virginia, There is Redevelopment in New London, Connecticut, But It’s Downtown, Not on the Site of the Wretched Kelo Redevelopment Project, and It’s Pursued by Private Enterprise.
It shouldn’t be news to the readers of this (Gideon’s Trumpet) blog that the vaunted redevelopment plan for New London, Connecticut, the one that gave us the infamous Kelo case, has been a civic and economic disaster. Using the power of eminent domain, an entire lower middle class neighborhood was taken by the city and razed to the ground in order to . . . what?
Maybe we better take a look at the Supreme Court’s Kelo opinion and see what the city had in mind. After all, the project, according to the Supreme Court, was evaluated by a team of consultants who considered six alternative development proposals for the Fort Trumbull redevelopment area.
The reader of the Kelo opinion is struck by two things. First, a lamentation over the city’s declining condition brought about by the shutdown of local U.S. Navy facilities and consequent above-average unemployment, and second, the need for urban revitalization through redevelopment. Though couched in restrained judicial prose, Justice Stevens’ majority opinion ultimately depends on the assertedly thorough, carefully vetted redevelopment plan produced by the city, that the court’s majority accepted at face value in justification of the city’s proposed redevelopment project. In the end those city plans were used by the court as a justification for its refusal to provide meaningful review of the issue whether or not the city’s redevelopment plans were really in the nature of “public use,” as required by the Constitution, or whether the city’s own self-serving say-so that they were, was sufficient to deem a purely private, profit-making enterprise to be a “public use.” The court’s (5 to 4) majority concluded that the latter was the case.
But guess what? After all the foofaraw and a Supreme Court opinion that roiled the country, brought a storm of criticism upon the court, and made the phrase “eminent domain” a dirty word, the New London redevelopment project went nowhere.
We blogged about these things repeatedly, and if you are interested see our posts of July 13, 2007, Nov. 27, 2007, Mar. 25, 2008, and May 29, 2008, telling the story of how New London’s vaunted redevelopment plans for Fort Trumbul did not get off the ground and how its redeveloper could not even get financing for the project.
But all this leaves an open a question that until now has not been reported in the national press.
What has happened in New London after its Supreme Court victory, given that the Fort Trumbull redevelopment project proved to be a failure?
We now have a fascinating answer. While the vaunted redevelopment project has gone nowhere, there has been some revival in New London by – are you ready? – private enterprise.
The New York Times (Lisa Prevost, In Connecticut, Developers Change Tack, N.Y. Times, Nov. 9, 2008, p. 13 (Bus.Sec.)) informs us that in contrast with all the gloom about its future, that was successfully peddled by the city to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Kelo case, there are signs of revival in New London – not in the area that had been chosen by the city for the Fort Trumbull redevelopment project (so much for all those fancy, expensive studies), but largely in the downtown area.
It turns out that several downtown and waterfront buildings are being privately renovated and converted to condominiums with some success. What this article makes clear is that New London’s problem is that it is, well, New London – an old, tired city, much of whose population has moved out over the years, and not some sort of hip place with a scenic, historical, or commercial cachet that is likely to draw visitors and trendy, affluent would-be residents. The city boasts that it is located mid-way between Boston and New York. Which comes close to a definition of the proverbial middle of nowhere, where these days it’s hard to make a living and even harder to make a municipal silk purse out of that sow’s ear. Those charming sidewalk cafes in yuppified areas of hip cities that boast of successful redevelopment projects can be fun, but you won’t enjoy one on the Connecticut waterfront in, say, February.
But there is life in New London. Condominiums are being promoted by their developers with varying degrees of success. “Downtown rentals, on the other hand, have done well,” says an owner of 65 rental apartments in six renovated buildings in the center of city. And here you thought that without that Fort Trumbull redevelopment project, New London was about to roll up its sidewalks and shrivel up.
So while urban prosperitywise things may nor be beer and skittles in New London, neither are they as dire as the city represented to the Supreme Court. The important part is that progress is being made in New London, and it is being made by private enterprise — the people best qualified to make it: locals whose lives and fortunes have been invested in their city, not an out-of-state redeveloper who moves in, pockets a generous municipal subsidy, wreaks havoc on a community targeted for redevelopment, cleans up (or tries to), and then moves on to wreak havoc on some other community.
So are those New Londoners going to live happily ever after? A definite maybe. It appears that along with the moderately good news there is also a cloud on the horizon. The state of Connecticut is blowing $750,000 on a study of how to maximize the economic potential of New London’s downtown transit facilities. Uh-oh. Will it be another case of “We are from the government and we are here to help you”? We shall see. Stay tuned.
Oh yes, we almost forgot. What about Pfizer pharmaceutical company, the industrial giant that had built a $300 million research facility across the Thames River from Fort Trumbull. The one whose presence in the community was going to vitalize this redevelopment effort on account of all those well-paid Pfizer employees moving into the community and freely spending their money on upscale housing and merchandise that would become available on the site of the taken lower middle-class homes?
Actually, nothing happened. Pfizer has suffered some business reverses and laid off 10,000 employees. The investors who “rushed in to buy many of the brick buildings that line Bank Street, parallel to the riverfront” didn’t make out too well either — according to the New York Times report, “unfortunately, they didn’t always renovate them.” So much for city-sparked redevelopment.
Gilbert note. Gideon successfully defended the owner of the 99 Cents Only store in Lancaster, CA. He has also appeared at our MORR/CURE conferences and joined a group of us in a 2006 meeting with representatives of the U.S. Government Accountability Office discussing eminent domain in Los Angeles.