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SUSETTE KELO, et al., Petitioners v. CITY OF NEW LONDON, CONNECTICUT, et al.

No. 04-108


545 U.S. 469; 125 S. Ct. 2655; 162 L. Ed. 2d 439; 2005 U.S. LEXIS 5011; 60 ERC (BNA) 1769; 10 A.L.R. Fed. 2d 733; 35 ELR 20134; 18 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 437

February 22, 2005, Argued
June 23, 2005, Decided

US Supreme Court rehearing denied by Kelo v. New London, 545 U.S. 1158, 126 S. Ct. 24, 162 L. Ed. 2d 922, 2005 U.S. LEXIS 5331 (U.S., Aug. 22, 2005)

PRIOR HISTORY: ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF CONNECTICUT. Kelo v. City of New London, 268 Conn. 1, 843 A.2d 500, 2004 Conn. LEXIS 54 (2004)


[***439] Proposed disposition of property "to increase tax and other revenues, and to revitalize . . . economically distressed city" held to qualify as "public use" within meaning of takings clause of Federal Constitution's Fifth Amendment.

After the state of Connecticut authorized two bond issues--one to support the planning activities of a private nonprofit development corporation that had been established to assist the city of New London in planning economic development, and the other to support creation of a state park in the city's waterfront area--a pharmaceutical company announced that it would build a $300 million research facility near the park. Subsequently, the city approved a development plan that (1) according to the Connecticut Supreme Court, was "projected to create in excess of 1,000 jobs, to increase tax and other revenues, and to revitalize an economically distressed city, including its downtown and waterfront areas"; and (2) involved land that (a) included the state park and approximately 115 privately owned properties, (b) was adjacent to the pharmaceutical company's facility, and (c) had been designated for a hotel, restaurants, retail and office spaces, marinas for both recreational and commercial uses, a pedestrian riverwalk, approximately 80 new residences, a museum, and parking spaces. When the city, through the development agency, sought to use the power of eminent domain to acquire some of the property in the development area, nine owners of 15 of the privately owned properties in the area--none of which properties were alleged to be blighted or otherwise in poor condition--brought, in the New London Superior Court, an action including claims that the taking of the owners' properties would violate the provision, in the Federal Constitution's Fifth Amendment, that a government could take [***440] private property for only "public use." The Superior Court (1) granted a permanent restraining order prohibiting the taking of the some of the properties; but (2) denied relief as to others. On appeal, the Connecticut Supreme Court, in affirming in part and reversing in part, held that (1) the "economic development" in question qualified as a valid public use under federal and state law; and (2) all of the city's proposed takings were valid (268 Conn. 1, 843 A.2d 500). On certiorari, the United States Supreme Court affirmed. In an opinion by Stevens, J., joined by Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., it was held that the city's proposed disposition of property under the development plan qualified as a "public use" under the Fifth Amendment, so that the city properly could use the power of eminent domain to acquire the unwilling sellers' property, as: (1) The city had carefully formulated a plan that it believed would provide appreciable benefits to the community, including--but by no means limited to--new jobs and increased tax revenue. (2) As with other exercises in urban planning and development, the city was endeavoring to coordinate a variety of commercial, residential, and recreational uses of land, with the hope that these uses would form a whole greater than the sum of its parts. (3) To effectuate the plan, the...
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