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Norwalk loses Supreme Court appeal on eminent domain lawsuit

The Norwalk Common Council on Thursday will consider financial liabilities incurred in a lawsuit filed by Robert Barton in 2003.

NORWALK, Conn. — A 14-year-old lawsuit inspired by eminent domain is set to cost Norwalk more money than expected.

The Common Council in August 2015 agreed to settle the lawsuit filed by Robert Barton in 2003 for $1.2 million, according to documents in City Hall. However, $1.65 million has been paid due to a Connecticut Supreme Court decision, the packet for Thursday’s Finance Committee meeting states.

“The city recently lost an appeal that obligated the city to pay $1,626,838.40 to the plaintiff. In August of 2015 the Common Council appropriated $1,200,000 for the settlement of this claim,” Mayor Harry Rilling wrote on Aug. 3 to Council members, in a letter included in the packet.

The Council is being asked to amend the resolution to reflect the “$1,650,000 for the costs associated with the judgment, as well as for administrative, legal, other professional service and financing cos ts related thereto,” Rilling wrote.

In 2002, Barton was the owner of a four-story, walk-up, commercial building at 70 South Main St. and a vacant lot diagonally across the street at 65 South Main St. which he acquired because the city demanded that he provide more parking for his building, according to caselaw.findlaw.com.

The city took the empty lot by eminent domain to facilitate the building of a new Norwalk Police headquarters. Barton sued, claiming inverse condemnation for his building, saying that its value dropped when he lost the parking lot.

“The condemnation case was resolved in 2009 when the Superior Court found the value of 65 South Main Street to be $310,000,” Caselaw states, going on to describe testimony by Wall Street real estate appraiser Michael McGuire as being integral to Barton’s successful 2013 effort in Superior Court.

“The court finds for the plaintiffs and against the defendant on the inverse condemnation claim and awards just compensation of $899,480, the difference in the value of the subject property, 70 South Main Street before and after the taking of 65 South Main in February 2002,” Caselaw quotes court documents as saying.

Rilling’s memo said, “In 2013, the trial court awarded the plaintiff a judgment that required the city to pay $899,480 worth of damages and prejudgment interest charges of $543,384.49; a decision that the city appealed. The city lost its appeal to the Connecticut Supreme court when it affirmed the trial court’s decision. The $1,626,838.40 payment that was made on July 20, 2017, included an additional $183,973.91 worth of post judgment interest.”

“The original capital appropriation that was put into place for property acquisition and construction of the new Police Headquarters has been fully exhausted, and the project has been closed out,”
Rilling wrote. “Nevertheless, this judgement represents a final cost associated with that project, and we believe that it is appropriate for the city to issue bonds to cover the cost of the judgment. Therefore, we are requesting approval of the attached amended bond resolution which was prepared by bond counsel.”

4 comments

Patrick Cooper September 13, 2017 at 12:11 pm

Bonds are taxes. Any other explanation is a blatant lie. Repayment costs anyone?

Are the taxpayers of this city going to allow this to happen all over again – are we going to turn “Milligan’s Island” into his Thurston Howell the 3rd retirement package?

Stop the madness. Elect Lisa Brinton Thomson this November.

Rick September 13, 2017 at 10:39 pm

The question is when the city took the lot who cleaned up the contamination that was suppose to be there?

Better yet was the lot ever cleaned up properly?

The city has found contamination in the area if my rumors are false where would the contamination be coming from above Ryan park?

The city was told months ago there was contamination coming from above Ryan park so the city has had plenty of time to come clean right?

Would real estate appraiser Michael McGuire have any info on any contamination in the area now that the case is closed?

Just think all the work the city is doing trying to find answers even spending money on it maybe Michael knows something and the city never asked him.

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