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.

9 comments:

tfhr said...

I'd be perfectly happy to allow Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Souter and Stevens to give up their homes for the sake of future pharmaceutical research. It seems to me that activist judges would have no problem with such an arrangement.

Skay said...

I am waiting to see how the Obama Admin. is going to make use of this terrible decision.
Do you have any nice property that they will need to make "hope and change" possible---to redistribute the wealth.

tfhr said...

Su casa es mi casa!

Pat Patterson said...

But one of the results of Kelo v New London was that in the suburbs many new laws were passed making that kind of taking illegal. Many bedroom communities had simply assumed that property would be seized only for "public use" and not the more loophole ridden "public benefit." It's much more difficult to acquire someone's property for use in redevelopment than before the decision. Except of course in big cities that are generally run by the Democrats who often are smarter than anyone else so see the future needs of the city better than the mere voters or property owners.

Greg said...

Does that mean I can use eminent domain to take over blogs the government thinks I can make more money with than their current owners?

How about copyrighted material.

Can Disney use eminent domain to monetize private property in copy written material because Disney can make more money with it?

I love the logic of all this.

mjh said...

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.

More than that, now they have to hope that they can somehow restore confidence in private buyers of any sort. If I were considering places to purchase a house, or if I were a company considering where to locate a business, I would have a hard time trying to price in the risk associated with the city deciding that there was some other buyer who would provide more tax revenue.

Seriously, what private owner will ever want to own property in New London? The only way I see that happening is if:

a) the private owner can get some sort of rock solid assurance that this isn't going to happen again,
or
b) the price of the land drops substantially in order to compensate for the risk

$0.02.

SheetWise said...

"Does that mean I can use eminent domain to take over blogs the government thinks I can make more money with than their current owners?

How about copyrighted material.

Can Disney use eminent domain to monetize private property in copy written material because Disney can make more money with it?

I love the logic of all this."


Don't think this hasn't been explored ... it's not funny .. many people believe that "efficient breach" should be law.

Doug said...

But one of the results of Kelo v New London was that in the suburbs many new laws were passed making that kind of taking illegal.

Yes,many laws were passed that sound like they do that, but in most cases they don't actually have teeth.

Tibor said...

Once perhaps the most principled legal system in the world, albeit not always fully consistent in its policies, the US has no degenerated into a pragmatic, Hobbesian polity. The big difference between it and where I come from, communist Hungary, was the respect shown (in most cases) for private property rights and other Lockean principles. Now it seems all that is being tossed by the likes of Cass Sunstein.