Monday, November 09, 2009

The miserable end to the Kelo case

Remember how New London, CT thought it was so crucial to take over private property including Susette Kelo's perfectly fine home in order to give the land to Pfizer who would build a plant and presumably employ people in the area. The result was the notorious Kelo v. the City of New London case that set the precedent that a municipality could use eminent domain to take property from one private owner and give it to another if they thought that it would contribute to economic growth in the area.

So Susette Kelo lost the property where she'd lived in for her adult lifetime, although the house itself was saved and moved to another location.

But the real irony is revealed today. Pfizer has decided not to build the plant that was supposed to help out New London enough to justify taking away people's private property to give to the drug company.
Pfizer Inc. will shut down its massive New London research and development headquarters and transfer most of the 1,400 people working there to Groton, the pharmaceutical giant said Monday.

The move comes in the wake of Pfizer's recent merger with Wyeth, and is part of a global consolidation of the two companies' research operations. Groton will be the biggest of the company's five major global research sites, the company said. The move from New London to Groton will take place over the next two years.

Pfizer is now deciding what to do with its giant New London offices, and will consider selling it, leasing it and other options, a company spokeswoman said.

The company has not said how many of its 5,000 Connecticut employees will lose their jobs, but the broader consolidation will "result in staff reductions" and cut the combined companies' research footprint by 35 percent.
New London became a byword for a community that would override people's private property rights. And now it's suffering the final degradation as the whole project is abandoned. Now they'll have to hope that some other company will want to buy the vacant lot where Susette Kelo's home and those of her neighbors once sat.
Weeds, glass, bricks, pieces of pipe and shingle splinters have replaced the knot of aging homes at the site of the nation's most notorious eminent domain project.

There are a few signs of life: Feral cats glare at visitors from a miniature jungle of Queen Anne's lace, thistle and goldenrod. Gulls swoop between the lot's towering trees and the adjacent sewage treatment plant.

But what of the promised building boom that was supposed to come wrapped and ribboned with up to 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues? They are noticeably missing.

Proponents of the ambitious plan blame the sour economy. Opponents call it a "poetic justice."

"They are getting what they deserve. They are going to get nothing," said Susette Kelo, the lead plaintiff in the landmark property rights case. "I don't think this is what the United States Supreme Court justices had in mind when they made this decision."
Instead of having a neighborhood of taxpaying homeowners they now have an overgrown abandoned lot.