Eminent Domain: Coming To Saugatuck Soon?

This morning’s post on a recent Town Hall meeting with state representatives carried a brief mention of a proposed bill. It would create an entity — the Connecticut Transit Corridor Development Authority — aimed at encouraging business development within a 1/2-mile radius of rail or bus transit stations.

State Representative Gail Lavielle responded quickly to “06880.” The bill, she says, would “make 8-30g” — Connecticut’s affordable housing mandate — “look like a picnic.”

Lavielle says the TCDA could “allow 11 state-level political appointees to do anything they wanted in the name of transit-oriented development (build affordable housing, expropriate people and businesses, build multi-story buildings, etc.)” — and do it within half a mile of the Saugatuck train station.

And, she notes, it could be done “without any approvals from Westporters or their elected officials at all.”

Uh oh.

Bridge Square is within half a mile of the Saugatuck railroad station. (Photo by Terry Cosgrave)

Bridge Square is within half a mile of the Saugatuck railroad station. (Photo by Terry Cosgrave)

The bill has been flying under the radar, Lavielle says. She found out about it only because, as an Appropriations subcommittee member responsible for the Department of Transportation budget, she asked about a line item for it.

DOT knew nothing about it, she says. She had to get facts from the governor’s office.

Lavielle says that in Newington — site of a new busway — concerned citizens have started a Facebook page called “Our Town. Our Choice. No to HB 6851.”

train station parkingLavielle believes that the Metro-North/I-95 corridor is a prime target area for TDCA’s activities.

And, she adds, “unlike with 8-30g, there is no appeals process. Not even a bad one.”

Saugatuck has been buzzing lately about plans for Phase III of its redevelopment.

Suddenly, there’s a bit more to buzz about.

(To read the full House Bill 6851, click here. To read Lavielle’s piece about the proposal in the Norwalk Hour, click here.)

23 responses to “Eminent Domain: Coming To Saugatuck Soon?

  1. Michael Calise

    The amazing thing about government is that all citizens need to be continuously vigilant of the very people we elect to represent us, whether it be local, state or national. Thank You Dan and Gail for the heads up!

  2. Matthew Mandell

    Transit oriented development is one of the biggest farces and nothing but a cover story for overdevelopment and the destruction of what towns have.

    Saugatuck has changed for the better. It is now a charming little area full of vibrance and interesting eating and shopping. Care is being taken not to destroy it as obvious future plans take shape. But only so much can be done. The road infrastructure is finite. And Westporters who live south it need to come through it daily.

    Let’s not allow what will be smart growth to be turned into the loss of what Saugatuck is and can be.

    Mike is right, vigilance is needed and action taken when warranted. All our state elected reps and sens need to take one side on this.

  3. Nina Streitfeld

    Thank you for calling this to our attention. Nina Streitfeld

  4. This proposed bill is another half baked attempt by the Malloy administration to impose it’s disasterious policies on the few parts of the state that actually work well. Seems like all the sponsors of this bill are in senior leadership positions.

  5. Great job following up on this under-the-radar item, Dan!

  6. To judge from the local leaders – and “environmentalist” political appointees – who spoke out last week against conserving one of the last significant parcels of town-owned open space, we plainly do not require state assistance to fully and aggressively urbanize Westport.

  7. Matthew Mandell

    Here is the purpose, which clearly would not apply to Westport since we already do all these. But no where does it say in this that a municipality can say NO. We just become sort of partners to it, for us this would be meddling in what we have already accomplished and are continuing to move forward with at our pace and our mindset.

    It does not talk about housing per se, but all the funding and decision making processes all have housing in it. So what is the deal? We do not need the State to say we need TOD and put housing all around our stations. And yes, Greens Farms would be in play as well.

    Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2015) (a) The purposes of the Connecticut Transit Corridor Development Authority shall be to: (1) Stimulate new investment and economic and transit-oriented development within Connecticut Transit Corridor Development Authority development districts; (2) stimulate tourism, art, culture, history, education and entertainment in such development districts through cooperation and coordination with the municipalities wherein each such development district is located, regional organizations and
    Governor’s Bill No. 6851
    LCO No. 3905 6 of 26
    the Department of Economic and Community Development; (3) manage facilities related to authority development projects through contractual agreement or other legal instrument; (4) upon request from the legislative body of a municipality wherein a development district is located, work with such municipality to assist in the development and redevelopment efforts to stimulate the economy of the region; and (5) upon request of the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, enter into an agreement for funding to facilitate development or redevelopment within a development district.

  8. We have this issue in R.I. – called RhodeMap RI – done under the radar where the decisions were taken out of the citizens hands. People need to read up & see what happened in Westchester County where they are turning down & giving back Federal funds because the rules have changed. The taking of Federal money supersedes the local zoning. Your Representatives must educate themselves. The HUD rules behind that glossy phrase of “affordable housing” have changed. Monied communities have a big target on them.

  9. Bart Shuldman

    Has it truly become the citizens against CT Governor/Government? Have we really reached such a low level where we have to continually work to stop this Governor? Is it a fight until he is gone?

    Who is behind this? Nobody should find this acceptable-even those democrats that truly support this man.

    Wow. This is very uncomfortable thinking we have to challenge this all.

  10. The bill is an effort to spread pork. Why is anyone surprised or outraged? This sort of activity has been the heart and soul of Connecticut politics for decades. Who elected the people in Hartford who propose this sort of statute? Who elected a governor who would sign this bill? Maybe we should look in the mirror.

  11. Michael Calise

    Sorry to be so blunt but we are a state run by the Democratic Party!

    • Bart Shuldman

      I appreciate our state is run by the democratic party. But this makes no sense. I can not believe anyone in this town would support this nonsense. I know this town is over 50% democrats but between the housing nonsense and now this, I cannot believe they support this bill. Mr. Steinberg cannot be in favor of this-could he?

      And why was it so hard for anyone to find?

      Can our elected officials ‘chime’ in and let us know what we need to do to stop this?

  12. Sal Gilbertie

    Great work Dan on spotlighting this issue. Just another example of believers in big government thinking the rights of individuals and local authorities can be superceded by bigger, and more powerful centralized government. Voters in Connecticut need to start thinking more about Thomas Jefferson’s warning that “A government big enough to give you everything you want will be big enough to take everything you have.”

  13. Eldh, Cheryl

    Hey

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

  14. Well said Sal!

  15. Jamie Camche

    Thank you for shedding light ! Certainly something to be concerned about.

  16. Sal, your quotation attributed to Thomas Jefferson came as a real surprise to me; my reservations were in part due to the wonderful AP U.S. History class I took at Staples taught by Mr. Woodruff.

    So, I looked it up and, according to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which maintains Monticello, the quote you cited is improperly attributed to Jefferson: http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/government-big-enough-to-give-you-everything-you-wantquotation

    I mean, when you stop to think about it, why would Jefferson in the 18th century even be talking about “a governent big enough to give you everything you want…”?

    • Sal Gilbertie

      Thanks Fred, I believed it was a quote from Jefferson, but I stand corrected. No matter who originally said it, the thought still applies to this situation. Connecticut seems like it is spinning out of control, with belief in government running high, and the rights of individuals seem to be taking a backseat to “the common good” which generally means more power to the politicos and less to the people – and local munincipalities too. Eminent Domain hits people pretty hard, and they stand up and pay attention when it gets close to their own backyard, but this is just a continuation of government encroachment that has become business as usual in Connecticut. Pretty scary stuff coming out of Hartford and no end in sight. Citizens beware!

  17. I don’t know much about the Yankee Institute, but I found a testimony that was given to address this horrible act. If what she says is correct, ‘This bill gives the Authority the power to condemn property within a half-mile of any transit stop in unnamed “development districts.” It gives the power to condemn property within these districts to an appointed board of directors. This is a significant power to place in the hands of an unelected board, who would not be directly responsible to the voting public.’

    Please read–and all I can say is WOW-government at its worse:

    MARCH 10, 2015

    Yankee Institute Policy Director Suzanne Bates recently testified against a proposal to create a new state authority with the power to condemn property and borrow even more money. The proposed quasi-public agency, to be called the Connecticut Transit Corridor Development Authority, could take private property within a half mile of a transit stop.

    Submitted testimony:

    March 6, 2015

    The Yankee Institute for Public Policy is a Connecticut think tank that develops and advances policy solutions to promote a smart, limited government; fairness for taxpayers; and an open road to opportunity for all the people of our state.

    I am here to testify in opposition to HB 6851. This bill would create the Connecticut Transit Corridor Development Authority, a statewide, quasi-public, economic development authority with the power to condemn private property, to borrow money, and to assert control over local governments.

    The creation of this authority represents a major new economic development initiative by the state government, and yet the executive branch – which has proposed this bill – has explained almost nothing about its intentions for the Authority. The state already has the ability to borrow and spend money on economic development through other state and quasi-public agencies. Why do we need another agency?

    This bill gives the Authority the power to condemn property within a half-mile of any transit stop in unnamed “development districts.” It gives the power to condemn property within these districts to an appointed board of directors. This is a significant power to place in the hands of an unelected board, who would not be directly responsible to the voting public.

    Connecticut is already infamous for a failed “economic development” initiative that led to taking the homes of innocent citizens, all for nothing. If you pass this legislation we could see history repeating itself.

    Lawmakers from the executive and legislative branches of government would appoint the members of the board of directors. Local lawmakers would have no control over who sits on the board. In fact, the legislation specifies that when a project is planned in a city or town, local lawmakers would only have an “ad-hoc” role on the board, with no voting rights.

    The bill as written directs local lawmakers that they “shall cooperate” with the authority in carrying out its mission. This represents a significant takeover of local control by an unelected board of directors. The state should not be putting this kind of power in the hands of a quasi-public agency, which has little direct responsibility to the people of Connecticut.

    The bill says that this authority is meant to “stimulate economic development.” I would point out that Connecticut has many fine banking and other financial institutions whose business it is to invest in economic development in Connecticut. The state has already inserted itself into the marketplace through several existing quasi-public agencies. We urge this committee to reject the creation of an additional quasi-public agency that would compete with private enterprise.

  18. Michael Calise has observed what Thomas Jefferson advised so many years ago; that “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” An admosnishment that we so often forget.

  19. Sheer madness
    Sheer greed
    Sheer ignorance
    Stop already