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February 21, 2005
Conn. residents fight for homes
By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY
Susette Kelo continues to touch up the paint on her clapboard house that overlooks the Thames River. She still tends to her garden. During a recent walk around the house, she noticed a few early flowers poking through the dirt.
She knows, however, that the 1893 Victorian cottage she bought eight years ago might not be standing much longer - and that its fate is in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court
On Tuesday, the court will hear an appeal from Kelo and about a dozen other holdout owners of property near Fort Trumbull State Park. They are trying to prevent the city of New London from seizing their land to clear the way for a private development project that would include a hotel, a conference center and offices. The city has argued that redeveloping 90 acres along the river and near a new Pfizer research plant would give a much-needed economic boost to the city of about 26,000 people, where the unemployment rate of 7.6% is about twice the state's rate.
Most owners of the 115 tracts that would be affected by the New London project took the money offered for their homes and moved.
Attorneys for the city and New London Development, a private, non-profit group established in 1978 to assist the city, said New London is "desperate for economic rejuvenation."
Wesley Horton, who will argue the case for New London, painted a bleak economic picture in his filing to the justices. He noted that the city's population has declined almost a third from about 34,000 in 1960. He also cited the city's high unemployment rate and said the area lost about 1,500 jobs when the federal government closed the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center here in 1996.
In an interview, Edward O'Connell, an attorney for New London Development, said Kelo was offered $123,000 from the city, roughly fair market value for her property.
Kelo, 48, said she simply does not want to move. The nurse and mother of five grown boys said that when developers first approached her, "I had just bought the place. I never even wanted to negotiate."
This article can be found at http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=676&e=15&u=/usatoday/20050221/ts_usatoday/connresidentsfightforhomesPosted by Coalition Webbies at February 21, 2005 05:55 PM