Monday, June 23, 2008

The Kelo House - An Icon In The Fight Against Eminent Domain Abuse

The Kelo House 36 Franklin Street, New London

Today is the third anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in the Kelo case. This past Saturday I attended the ribbon cutting of the Kelo House in New London, now moved from it's Fort Trumball neighborhood to Franklin Street. A man by the name of Avner Gregory paid $1 for the house and he spent $100,000 in dismantling and moving it from Fort Trumbull. He rebuilt it with help from some talented architects and builders on property he owns near downtown New London. Mr. Gregory is a champion in making this reminder of eminent domain abuse visible and alive. So the house that Susette Kelo once owned has been moved, it's been enhanced, it's a reminder that no property in CT is safe from taking by the government or developers who can convince a town that they could produce more tax income from your property.

The really sad thing is that all of those families in the Fort Trumball neighborhood that were chased out of their homes and had their homes destroyed, have since been displaced and the property that had been so fought over now sits dormant and empty even after three years. How pathetically sad.

There are other families in other parts of CT who have had a similar fate. Their properties were taken away from them for some grand development either by the State or for someone else's gain, and the properties now sit unused. Houses were taken and the roads or other buildings were never built.

It just goes to show how the urgency of these projects is such a myth. It just goes to show how really sad and heartless it is to cause people such financial burden through litigation and cause such upheaval in their lives... for what? This property at Fort Trumball doesn't even have a set development plan yet.

Although the Kelo case was lost unbelievably at the hands of a US Supreme Court that apparently cannot and does not interpret our Constitutional Rights properly, the many battles in the aftermath have been refreshingly better. 40 States have ignored the ridiculous ruling of the Supreme Court and have worked to put protections in place for property owners. State courts are more sensitive and sensible regarding the taking of land from people and handing it over to developers. Unfortunately CT is not one of them. The CT Legislature has yet to come up with any meaningful legislation regarding protecting property owners from Eminent Domain abuse.

I hope that you will ask some tough questions about this to those candidates who knock on your doors this summer and fall asking for your vote in November, as they seek State House and Senate seats in CT (or in some other states as well). If they are incumbents please look at their voting record regarding eminent domain abuse and ask them why they have done NOTHING to protect your home and property from what those in Fort Trumball had to endure.

Support and vote for those who will vow to make sure that what happened to Susette Kelo and Michael Cristofaro and others, will not happen ever again in CT. Visit the house in New London. Drive by and pay your respects. The Kelo House should be a beacon and a reminder of what can be lost at the hands of our government and courts.

Here are more photos from the day.The Kelo House with uncut ribbon on the stairway

Susette Kelo, Avner Gregory, Atty Scott Bullock (Institute of Justice)
speaking to those gathered. Scott Bullock said,"This little pink house will take its place among homes that have changed the face of America".

Susette Kelo, Michael Cristofaro (speaking), Avner Gregory,
and Atty Scott Bullock (Institute of Justice)

The dedication plaque in front of the house

"Not For Sale" sign on the granite address post in front of the house