Monday, April 25, 2011

Kelo Point

The machinations revolving around the Fort Trumbull area where Suzette Kelo used to own a home keep on reverberating even to this day. Now Newsbusters is reporting (citing a local press report) that the chosen developer for the New London site wants, get this, tax subsidies or he may pull out of the newly proposed development:

"After several false starts, the city is working with a new developer. As of February of last year, this developer wanted to put rental townhouses in an area where century-old, largely owner-occupied homes once stood.Early Friday, the New London Day's Kathleen Edgecomb reported a new twist. Wait until you see what the developer wants before going forward.

Yep, tax abatements."

Here's the local twist: "A developer hoping to build housing at Fort Trumbull said Thursday they will seek tax abatements from the city to move the project forward. Robert and Irwin Stillman, the father and son owners of Westport-based River Bank Construction, said the abatements were necessary to make the project financially feasible. "If abatements are not approved, we would have to reconsider,'' Robert Stillman said during a meeting Thursday afternoon with The Day's editorial board."

Isn't it heartwarming, though, that the local development corporation hasn't given up on the site? After all, it's only been 10 years and hundreds of millions of tax dollars lost: "Michael Joplin, president of the New London Development Corp., said the city should offer the abatements because it will help increase homeownership and eventually bring in more taxes. The NLDC does not look at short-term economic rewards, he said. Rather, it seeks to increase the tax base and create economic development that will be (sic) span the next 30 to 40 years."

Where would we all be without these local LDCs? And the establishment press is still struck dumb when it comes to analyzing the disastrous impacts of the astonishingly dumb Kelo decision by the Supreme Court: "In its opinion (scroll to Section IV), the Justices opined in 2005 that "The City has carefully formulated an economic development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including–but by no means limited to–new jobs and increased tax revenue." In 2011, a city which could have collected five more years of property taxes from established homeowners by now is instead contemplating and appears likely to approve tax breaks to a developer of rental units it hopes to convert to condos when the real estate market gets better."

Is this a cautionary tale for Willets Point and the city's own band of economic development geniuses? Well, if it isn't it should be. And Newsbusters makes the following point about Kelo and New London that is easily transposed to NYC: "This outcome makes a complete mockery of the Supreme Court majority's belief that a "carefully formulated ... economic development plan" was ever in place."

Now all we need is for some public spirited elected officials to say, hold up. We don't have the money now for this harebrained scheme, and certainly not when it involves taking people's property