The U.S. Supreme Court in June allowed New London to raze a neighborhood to build a privately owned hotel and office space that officials say could add millions of dollars to the tax base. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that states may enact additional laws restricting condemnations if residents are overly burdened.
The General Assembly has yet to act, with Republican lawmakers seeking a binding moratorium on property seizures until the state's eminent domain laws can be reviewed. Democrats held two public hearings during the summer and called on state and municipal leaders to voluntarily halt any eminent domain proceedings.
Some municipalities are taking action.
Milford has limited the use of eminent domain with an ordinance that prevents local officials from seizing property to be turned over to developers. It allows officials to condemn property for public projects such as new schools or roads.
"Of all the issues people call about, this one raised the greatest clamor," said Milford Alderman Thomas Beirne.
Trumbull and Monroe are considering similar restrictions and a Stratford Town Council committee recently approved an ordinance modeled after Milford's.
Bridgeport and Stamford are not restricting eminent domain authority. Officials say not much land is available for tax-generating projects because of densely developed areas in the two municipalities.
Seizing smaller properties, therefore, is often the only way to make land available for redevelopment, local officials say.
The Stratford Town Council's ordinance committee last week approved a proposal that makes it difficult to take land for private economic development purposes. The plan, which heads to the Town Council for action, is based on the ordinance adopted in Milford.
"Anything that serves as a roadblock to the town taking private property is something we should do," Town Councilwoman Jennifer Hillgen-Santa said.
Republicans on the Trumbull Town Council have introduced a resolution that would prevent officials from seizing property for developers. A two-thirds majority vote of the council would be required when the power is used for public projects such as new schools or roads.
A similar proposal on the Monroe Town Council also would restrict the town's power to use eminent domain.