If you thought New London land grabbers might show a little class after their Kelo victory, you’d be wrong:
The U.S. Supreme Court recently found that the city’s original seizure of private property was constitutional under the principal of eminent domain, and now New London is claiming that the affected homeowners were living on city land for the duration of the lawsuit [which started in 2000] and owe back rent. It’s a new definition of chutzpah: Confiscate land and charge back rent for the years the owners fought confiscation. In some cases, their debt could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Moreover, the homeowners are being offered buyouts based on the market rate as it was in 2000…. With the case nearly closed, the [New London Development Corp.] may soon make good on its promise to sue. Jeremy Paul, an associate UConn law dean who teaches property law, says it’s not clear who might prevail in a legal battle over rent. “From a political standpoint, the city might be better off trying to reach some settlement with the homeowners,” he says. An NLDC estimate assessed [Matt] Dery for $6,100 per month since the takeover, a debt of more than $300K. One of his neighbors, case namesake Susette Kelo, who owns a single-family house with her husband, learned she would owe in the ballpark of 57 grand. “I’d leave here broke,” says Kelo. “I wouldn’t have a home or any money to get one. I could probably get a large-size refrigerator box and live under the bridge.”
Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.