Ain’t That America? Little Pink House Rises Again

August 1, 2008

Ain’t That America? Little Pink House Rises Again

Avner Gregory and Susette Kelo embrace at a ribbon cutting ceremony in front of the newly relocated Kelo house. Senior attorneys Scott Bullock and Dana Berliner and IJ client Michael Cristofaro look on.

Like Paul Revere’s home in Boston or Betsy Ross’ house in Philadelphia, you can now travel to New London, Conn., to visit the little pink house that launched a nationwide property rights movement to stop eminent domain abuse. On Saturday, June 21, 2008, just two days shy of the third anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Kelo decision, the Institute for Justice hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration at the home’s new location in downtown New London.

On a beautiful summer day, about 200 people joined Susette Kelo, IJ’s Scott Bullock, Dana Berliner, Clark Neily, Christina Walsh and Melanie Hildreth, and other former property owners in Fort Trumbull, including community supporters in Connecticut and several other states who traveled there to be part of the event.

Kelo’s home was disassembled and moved piece-by-piece over the past year to its new location. It now serves not only as a monument to those who battle eminent domain abuse, but also as a home for its new owner, local preservationist Avner Gregory. Everyone who toured the restored home noted its beauty and the obvious love Avner has for the house and its historic importance.

The Kelo case sparked a nationwide backlash against eminent domain abuse. Since that ruling:

43 states have passed either constitutional amendments or legislation that provide greater protections for property owners facing eminent domain abuse.

Two state supreme courts have rejected the ruling while five others analyzed and rejected takings in a way that is inconsistent with Kelo. No state has adopted Kelo as a matter of state constitutional law.

Property owners and community activists throughout the country have stopped 23 projects that abused eminent domain for private development.

Meanwhile, in Fort Trumbull, the project for which the city removed Susette and her neighbors has been a total failure. After spending $78 million in taxpayer dollars, the city of New London and the private developer have engaged in no new construction since the project was approved in 2000. The preferred developer for part of the site, Corcoran Jennison, recently missed its latest deadline for securing financing for building and was terminated as the designated developer.

Although Kelo and her neighbors endured a tragic loss of their neighborhood, they can take comfort in the fact that they have left a legacy of real change and inspiration for millions of other property owners throughout the nation.

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