Institute for Justice Calls on Coast Guard To Take Eminent Domain Off the Table In New London

John Kramer
John Kramer · May 16, 2002

Washington, D.C.-The U.S. Coast Guard announced that it intends to build a museum in the historic Fort Trumbull neighborhood of New London, Connecticut, on a parcel of land that is at the heart of an ongoing eminent domain controversy. Today, the Institute for Justice, the law firm that represents the owners of the remaining homes on the site, called on the Coast Guard to pledge not to take any land that is acquired through eminent domain.

“One of the primary missions of the Coast Guard is rescue, and this is an opportunity for the Coast Guard to rescue a plan that has been characterized by arrogance and oppression since its origin,” said Scott Bullock, senior attorney at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice. “The Coast Guard should pledge today that it will build its museum only on land that has been acquired voluntarily, not through force.”

In March 2002, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Corradino dismissed the eminent domain actions filed against the owners of homes on so-called Parcel 4A of the Fort Trumbull Municipal Development Plan, where the museum is planned. The City of New London and the New London Development Corporation (NLDC) have appealed that ruling and it is pending before the appellate courts. The Institute is appealing the part of the decision that permitted the NLDC to take the homes of three residents in Parcel 3, a part of the plan where privately owned office space is planned. The City of New London delegated its eminent domain authority to the NLDC, a private—and, therefore, unaccountable—development corporation in 2000.

“The Coast Guard could be the hero in this controversy by going forward with its plans for the museum while respecting the property rights of Fort Trumbull residents who simply wish to keep control of their properties,” Bullock said.

The NLDC already owns much of the property in Parcel 4A, so the museum can be built without destroying additional homes to complete this project.

“The Coast Guard can avoid serious public controversy and eliminate the ongoing pain of the residents by taking eminent domain off the table,” Bullock concluded.