September 30, 2005
EMINENT DOMAIN BILL, LCO NO. 24
By: Christopher Reinhart, Senior Attorney
You asked for a summary of LCO No. 24, “An Act Concerning the Acquisition of Real Property by Eminent Domain for Purposes of Economic Development.” This bill is scheduled for a Public Hearing before the Judiciary Committee on October 6, 2005.
This bill requires a condemning authority to make specific findings before it can use eminent domain to acquire real property that will be sold, leased, or conveyed to benefit a private party for economic development purposes. The condemning authority must find that the property is:
1. part of an integrated development plan with substantial and significant public uses or benefits,
2. not acquired solely to benefit a private party, and
3. reasonably necessary to carry out the development plan.
These rules apply regardless of any other statute, special act, or municipal charter or ordinance. They apply to the state, political subdivisions, and any entities to which they have delegated eminent
domain powers. “Real property” includes land, subterranean or
subsurface rights, structures, easements, air rights, franchises, and any interest in them.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage
EMINENT DOMAIN AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
A number of statutes authorize the use of eminent domain (see OLR Reports 2005-R-0578 and 2005-R-0583). The bill's provisions on the use of eminent domain for economic development appear to apply to the following statutes.
1. Under the urban sites remedial action program, the Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection commissioner can condemn polluted commercial or industrial property to remediate the pollution and lease or sell the property to promote business growth or expansion through the reuse or redevelopment of the property (CGS §§ 22a-133m, 48-9).
2. The Office of Policy and Management secretary can take certain property related to the Adriaen's Landing project (CGS §§ 32-655 and -658).
3. A municipal corporation can take property located within a neighborhood revitalization zone that is identified in a strategic plan, to deal with substandard, insanitary, and blighted neighborhoods (CGS § 7-600 et seq. and 48-6).
4. Under the redevelopment statutes, a redevelopment agency can acquire property by eminent domain with approval of the municipality's legislative body. The stated statutory purpose of these provisions is to deal with substandard, insanitary, deteriorated, deteriorating, slum, or blighted areas and acquiring property to eliminate those conditions, prevent their recurrence, remove structures, improve the sites, and dispose of the property for redevelopment (CGS § 8-124 et seq.).
5. A redevelopment agency has the powers necessary or convenient to carry out urban renewal plans and projects, including powers conferred on redevelopment agencies for redevelopment projects. This includes eminent domain (CGS § 8-143).
6. If a municipality's legislative body finds that acquiring non-contiguous single parcels designated in a community development plan is necessary to prevent the spread of slum or blight, the municipality or the community development agency acting in its name can acquire the property. The land can be acquired as under the redevelopment statutes, which includes eminent domain (CGS § 8-169e).
7. A development agency can, with approval of the legislative body and in the municipality's name, acquire property by eminent domain within the area of a development plan (CGS § 8-193).
8. An urban rehabilitation agency can recommend to the municipality's legislative body that abandoned industrial and commercial property be taken by eminent domain (CGS § 8-293).
9. Under the economic development and manufacturing assistance act, an agency implementing a develop plan can, with approval of the municipality's legislative body and in the name of the municipality, condemn property that is necessary or appropriate for the project as identified in the plan (CGS § 32-224).
10. The Capital City Economic Development Authority can acquire property by condemnation (a) in connection with the convention center facilities, hotel, on-site related private development, and related infrastructure improvements or (b) that is necessary or desirable to effectuate the purposes of the authority for the convention center project and hotel (CGS §32-602).
Kelo v. City of New London
In Kelo v. City of New London the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that New London could take privately owned properties for private development under its economic revitalization plan (125 S. Ct. 2655, June 23, 2005, http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/04slipopinion.html). The Court held that since the plan served a public purpose, it satisfied the U.S. Constitution's public use requirement, which bans government from taking land for public use without just compensation. Relying on prior decisions, the Court interpreted public use as being the equivalent of “public purpose.” OLR Report 2005-R-0560 analyzes that opinion.
The decision upheld the Connecticut Supreme Court's 2004 Kelo decision (268 Conn. 1), which found that New London's actions did not violate either the Connecticut or the U.S. constitutional bans against taking property for public uses without just compensation. OLR Reports 2004-R-0394 and 2004-R-0401 analyze that opinion.