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Judge sides with town against Eureka

A map of one of the past plans for development of “Bennett’s Pond South.”

In a decision town officials are welcoming, a federal judge has ruled in the town’s favor in one of two remaining lawsuits in the town’s decade-long legal battle with Eureka V LLC over the future of the Bennett’s Pond property.

“It’s good news,” First Selectman Marconi said.

Eureka, the plaintiff in the case, has 30 days to appeal the decision at the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

If it isn’t appealed, Tuesday’s decision would appear to end legal wrangling over the town’s efforts to take the two Bennett’s Pond parcels by eminent domain.

Years ago the town completed an eminent domain taking of Bennett’s Pond North, on the other side of Bennett’s Farm Road, paying an $11.5 million “fair market value” for 458 acres.

That land is now Bennett’s Pond State Park.

But the town’s efforts to take the 155-acre Bennett’s’ Pond South parcel — with plans to make in an office park — were halted by Eureka’s lawsuit, which has since dragged on for 10 years.

In the summary judgment language offered by the town and approved by the judge, the town gives up — for another 10 years, anyway — the right to pursue an eminent domain taking of the Bennett’s Pond South parcel.

Things have changed, and the town is no longer that interested.

The other remaining lawsuit is in state appeals court. In that state suit, Eureka is seeking more than the 223 residential units a judge had granted for the site in his review of Planning and Zoning Commission decision on an affordable housing plan submitted by Eureka.

Extensive coverage of this story will appear in Thursday’s Ridgefield Press.

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  • Big Bones McGee

    Am I missing something here? I thought Eureka was suing the Town to prevent it from exercising eminent domain to acquire the Bennett’s Pond South Parcel. The article indicates, however, that the Town has given up its right to pursue eminent domain for a 10 year period.
    Taxpayers should get an accounting of the legal expenses the Town incurred to achieve this settlement.

  • CMcQuilken

    Huh? I agree with Big Bones. The town was trying to exercise eminent domain. From how I read the article, the judge has now ruled we can’t exercise eminent domain. How is this “good news” and “in the town’s favor”?

    Forgive me if I’m wrong here, but this sounds like mega spin.

    I normally have faith in the BOS. Maybe the article has the details wrong?

  • Kirk

    Chris ….

    Your memory is way, way too long for the BOS …. They were counting on no one remembering any of the history of this or the players who made it happen.

  • Big Bones McGee

    Interesting tidbits in the court’s ruling, including the First Selectman’s statement in his affidavit regarding the 8-30g affordable housing moratorium that Town is now working to obain:

    “at no time did the Town believe or intend, and the Town does not now believe or intend, that a future moratorium could affect Plaintiff’s affordable housing plans with respect to the Eureka Property.”

  • Secondhand Rose

    I thought this entire thing was supposed to prevent any building at all on this property. But the way I read it, it sounds as if Eureka will not be allowed to build but the town can? Or am I missing something?

    All I can tell you is, living in that area with all the various streams, lakes, and ponds there – there is no way this area is going to be able to support a large influx of housing OR condos here.

    • Big Bones McGee

      Rose,
      Nothing in the ruling will prevent Eureka from developing the property. Ostensibly, the Town’s plan was to acquire the property by eminent domain and allow the site to be utilized for commercial development.

  • Secondhand Rose

    adding:

    without being seriously detrimental to the existing environment.

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