Location:
EDUCATION - BOARDS OF; EMINENT DOMAIN;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations; Background;

OLR Research Report


January 18, 2012

 

2012-R-0068

BOARDS OF EDUCATION AND EMINENT DOMAIN

By: Christopher Reinhart, Chief Attorney

Ryan O'Neil, Research Assistant

You asked us to survey Connecticut boards of education about their use of eminent domain for school projects in the last five years. Specifically, you wanted to know whether boards took residential property by eminent domain; whether the property owners contested a board's offer of compensation in court; and, for each court case, whether the court awarded different compensation than the board offered.

The law allows boards of education to take property by eminent domain for school projects (CGS 10-241a). In doing so, the board must seek town approval and follow the eminent domain procedures set out for redevelopment projects (see CGS 8-129 et seq.). According to these procedures, the board must offer a property owner compensation for property taken by eminent domain, the owner can ask a court to review the board's offer of compensation, and the court can order a different amount.

We surveyed the state's 165 boards of education. Within the limited time available to us, we received responses from 59 or 36%. These boards come from most parts of the state but most represent smaller or medium size districts.

For these responding boards, only five reported conducting a project between 2007 and 2011 that required the board to acquire property. The five boards reported a total of six projects during this time period, only three of which required the board to use its eminent domain authority. Waterbury reported taking six private residences by eminent domain, four of the owners contested the compensation for their property, and in all four cases the court awarded the owners the same amount that the board had offered as compensation.

Table 1 displays the survey results for the towns that reported conducting projects that required the board to acquire property in the last five years.

Table 1: Boards Reporting Projects Involving Property Acquisition and Use of Eminent Domain from 2007 to 2011

Board

Number of Projects Requiring Property Acquisition

Number of Projects Requiring Use of Eminent Domain

Number of Private Residences Taken by Eminent Domain

Number of Residential Property Owners who Contested Compensation in Court

Outcome of Court Action by Residence Owner

Regional School District 7 (Barkhamsted, Colebrook, New Hartford, Norfolk)

1

1*

0

0

N/A

Regional School District 16 (Beacon Falls, Prospect)

1

0

0

0

N/A

Thomaston

1

0

0

0

N/A

Waterbury

2

2

6

4

Court awarded same amount as board offered in all four cases

Windham

1

0

0

0

N/A

* Board took farm property by eminent domain, the owner contested compensation in court, and the court awarded less than the board's offer of compensation.

Table 2 lists the 54 boards of education that responded to our survey and reported no projects requiring property acquisition, by eminent domain or otherwise, from 2007 to 2011.

Table 2: Boards of Education Reporting No Projects Requiring Property Acquisition from 2007 to 2011

Ansonia

Ledyard

Regional School District 12 (Bridgewater, Roxbury, Washington)

Barkhamsted

Litchfield

Regional School District 13 (Durham, Middlefield)

Berlin

Madison

Regional School District 19 (Ashford, Mansfield, Willington)

Bethany

Manchester

Scotland

Bethel

Mansfield

Seymour

Cheshire

Middletown

Sherman

Colchester

Milford

Simsbury

Darien

Montville

Stafford

East Haddam

New Fairfield

Tolland

East Hartford

New London

Torrington

East Lyme

Newtown

Trumbull

Eastford

Norfolk

Voluntown

Enfield

North Branford

Waterford

Fairfield

North Stonington

West Hartford

Farmington

Norwich

Westbrook

Granby

Putnam

Willington

Greenwich

Regional School District 8 (Andover, Hebron, Marlborough)

Wilton

Groton

Regional School District 10 (Burlington, Harwinton)

Wolcott

CR:ro