Today is the tenth anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in the case of Suzette Kelo and the Fort Trumbull neighborhood. The Supreme Court of the United States found that the government has the right to take private property for the purpose of turning it over to private developers. A stunning admission by a state Supreme Court judge emphasizes the fact that this is one case which must be overturned.
A journalist, who wrote a book about the Kelo case gave a keynote address at a private dinner in 2011, in which he talked about Suzette Kelo’s personal story. In a most astounding statement, one of the state Supreme Court judges, Richard N. Palmer, approached Suzette Kelo and the journalist, Jeff Benedict, after the address, and said, “Had I known all of what you just told us, I would have voted differently.”
Suzette and the journalist were speechless because his vote would have changed history. The Justice “turned to Suzette, took her hand and offered a heartfelt apology. Tears trickled down her red cheeks. It was the first time in the 12-year saga that anyone had uttered the words ‘I’m sorry.’ It was all she could do to whisper the words: ‘Thank you.’”
Developers are almost always tied to a political party which makes this decision a political and unsavory one.
Over the years, Eminent Domain has gone from being used solely for public use to use by the public for private development, including privately owned shopping centers, conference centers, resorts, auto malls, movie theaters, and so on. A developer who curries favor can claim public use for land that would normally be sold privately.
The case of Kelo v. New London on June 23, 2004 (Kelo v. New London 2004) was the deciding case.
The state decided to take Suzette Kelo’s beautiful water view home, nicknamed The Little Pink House, and her neighbors’ homes, for use as a resort hotel and conference center, a park, and 80-100 new residence with office space.
Suzette fought the case. The Supreme Court of Connecticut found that the economic project would create new jobs, increase tax revenues, and revitalize a depressed area, thus making it a public use case. On June 23, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the State of Connecticut (Kelo v. New London 2005).
The City eventually agreed to move Susette Kelo’s house to a new location and agreed to pay substantial additional compensation to other homeowners, something they were not willing to do originally.
This was an entire neighborhood they were willing to destroy, a long-privately-held community, and they did.
As it turned out, ten years later, it’s still an undeveloped, bulldozed area. All projects have fallen through. It cost the city $78 million to destroy the homes and prepare it for development.
The original redeveloper was unable to obtain financing and abandoned the redevelopment project, leaving the land an empty lot. It was eventually turned into a dump by the City.
Jeff Benedict, Hartford Courant journalist, has written a book about Suzette Kelo’s story called The Little Pink House.
It’s an American tragedy of stolen land that is playing out all over this country. It’s being abused in state after state, with New York the worst offender.
The Daily Signal had a story about it today and interviewed some of the victims of this government overreach.
“They put in infrastructure and roads to nowhere, sidewalks to nowhere with always the thought that they were going to have this redevelopment plan where a hotel would come, a health club, cafes, restaurants and stuff like that that never came to be,” Kelo told The Daily Signal.
And for Kelo and Michael Cristofaro—who grew up in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood and whose father was one of the plaintiffs in the case—the wounds from their battle with New London haven’t yet healed.
“If you look out, this is what the city of New London wanted,” Cristofaro told The Daily Signal, standing in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood. “This is what they took our homes for—this vast amount of land. This is what the U.S. Supreme Court said that the city of New London was justified in taking our homes—an empty field. As far as I’m concerned, it’s an empty dream.”
video via The Daily Signal