West Haven: 1. Property owners: 0.
West Haven has won the lengthy war to acquire six private properties. Although it was a last resort, the city is invoking its “eminent domain” rights granted to them by the 5th Amendment and will now move forward to build a swanky new shopping plaza.
The New Haven Register reports the city will take the six property owners to court and offer them a monetary settlement after they rejected every offer by the developer.
West Haven insists that building the mall is for the greater good, which is exactly what the 5th Amendment protects. The Haven South project says constructing a new outlet will create hundreds of jobs and stimulate the local economy.
Meanwhile, those losing their homes and businesses are saying the city is simply grabbing their properties because it can. Their representatives contend that the Haven project doesn’t necessarily need their land to go forward with their development.
Dwight Merriam of Robinson & Cole of Hartford, who represents the remaining property owners, blasted the recent decision, “we have seen nothing that demonstrates that there is any public purpose to be served by the taking of these … properties.”
One of those being evicted is a pair of elderly life-long residents.
Merriam is hoping there is a way for the owners to sell their properties and lease them back. “We’re ready to deal with the city and we’re ready to deal with The Haven Group … and figure out ways that these properties can be incorporated with this project in the long run, but in the meantime,” said Merriam.
However, Merriam also has a feeling this move will come with a heavy dose of karma. “It seems like all West Haven wants to do is the same tragic mistake that New London did.”
Oh, who remembers that particular case? Yeah, 11 years later and the city STILL has nothing to show for all that property they took. No construction, no parking lot… it’s sad and kinda funny at the same time.
Mayor Edward O’Brien is confident that won’t happen. He emailed The Register and, while he agrees that this outcome is extremely controversial, he knows it is for the best. “In the interests of the tens of thousands of West Haven residents who according to a poll conducted by the University of New Haven support this progressive economic development initiative, I can no longer stand idle and watch a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create hundreds of jobs and generate millions of dollars in property tax revenue slip through our fingers.”