Latest Vague Plans for Kelo Ruling Area Now Barren for 8-1/2 Years: A 'Green' Parking Garage and ‘Micro Lots’

December 14th, 2013 9:27 AM

The nation's press has long since stopped paying any attention to what has actually happened in the wake of the outrageous Kelo vs. New London Supreme Court ruling in June 2005.

The court's majority wrote that "The city has carefully formulated a development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including, but not limited to, new jobs and increased tax revenue." The quite newsworthy but virtually ignored fact flying in the face of the Supremes' certitude is that nothing has happened in the affected area for 8-1/2 years. The latest idea for removing the "stain" of Kelo proposed by New London, Connecticut Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio is to place a "green" parking garage and "micro lots" (with micro homes) in the affected Fort Trumbull neighborhood where perfectly acceptable century-old housing used to stand. Excerpts from a New London Day editorial reporting on that paper's meeting with the mayor follow the jump.

Finizio, a Democrat, while saying some of the right things about the ruling, appears to be using the opportunity to demonstrate that he's on board with the far-left enviro wing of his party (HT Bob Unruh at WND; bolds are mine):

Take the steps to pursue Fort Trumbull dreams

A "tiny house neighborhood" and a symbolic cleansing of the Kelo ruling "stain" are among the development options discussed for Fort Trumbull by New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio in his recent meeting with The Day editorial board. What remains murky is the mayor's vision for how any development takes place on the long barren peninsula and who will be in charge of guiding and promoting it.

The 2005 Supreme Court decision in New London v. Kelo, in which the court by a 5-4 majority constitutionally validated the New London Development Corp.'s use of eminent domain to purchase and raze the homes of Fort Trumbull residents who refused to sell, remains a "black stain" on the city, said its mayor.

NLDC wanted to clear the site to attract large corporate development and expand the city's tax base. Its judicial triumpth proved a pyrrhic victory, the decision widely despised for interpreting "public use" to include the government taking the property of citizens to turn over to private developers. Count the New London mayor among the despisers. He characterized the Kelo decision as a "corruption of the constitutional interpretation of public use."

... Mayor Finizio said he would like New London to symbolically overturn Kelo by undertaking a true "public use" of the seized private properties. He offered as an example a parking garage, under discussion recently as a means of meeting the parking demands generated by Electric Boat's offices in the former Pfizer buildings, the one major project resulting from NLDC's corporate development vision.

This would not be any municipal parking garage, but one with solar panels to power it, landscaping and design to fit it into the setting, and first-floor shops to generate revenues.

"What really gets us beyond the eminent domain debacle may be effectively overturning the Kelo opinion if not de jure before the Supreme Court, then de facto in the city of New London," said Finizio. "What (New London) justified this (eminent domain seizure) on was generating private development for economic development purposes, but what we are actually going to do is create public development for economic development purposes."

As for other parcels in Fort Trumbull, those not obtained through eminent domain, Finizio threw out an idea that he said is in keeping with his campaign vision to seek "green, integrated, mixed use" development.

"Tiny house neighborhoods," Finizio told the editorial board.

... "Small, environmentally self-sustaining homes that are low up-keep, energy self-sufficient, etc. And a lot of cities that are trying to green themselves have looked at this kind of development," he elaborated.

Tiny houses, you say? Sort of like, I don't know, the little pink house Susette Kelo used to own before New London, with the Supreme Court's blessing, took her property away?


These ideas sort of sound nice on one level (but obviously outrageous on another, given that a perfectly good neighborhood was razed for no defensible reason by a government which, despite the court's ruling, objectively had no consitution right to do what it did). But the editorial goes on to note that "Lacking from the mayor's vision for Fort Trumbull is any clear path to achieve it," and that instead of dissolving the New London Development Corporation which accomplished nothing for so many years, Finizio has only renamed it.

The odds appear strong that there will be a 10-year anniversary of no concrete action in Fort Trumbull, showing that there's a practical as well as a constitutional argument against what the Supreme Court did — namely that governments rarely know what they're doing when they undertake what they like to call "redevelopment."

If things drag on that long, it will be interesting to see if the nation's establishment press bothers to note it.

Cross-posted at