In 1997, Susette Kelo was a 40-year-old nurse going through a divorce when she scraped up enough money to buy her own home, an old cottage on the edge of an industrial neighborhood which overlooked New London, Connecticut's seacoast. For the first time in her life, she owned her own space - a home with a view of the water and a place to start her life over. Susette painted her new home pink and moved in. She thought her dream had come true. She was wrong.
Weeks later Pfizer Inc., the world's largest pharmaceutical company, announced plans to build its new global research and development headquarters right next door. To pave the way, the State of Connecticut put up $100 million to improve the area around Pfizer's new facility. Eager to accommodate this expansion, the City of New London quickly began an aggressive campaign to buy out all the nearby property owners to make way for a five-star hotel, a corporate park and new upscale housing.
Susette wouldn't budge. Finally, she came home from work on the day before Thanksgiving and found condemnation papers tacked to her front door. All of her neighbors who had also refused to sell received the same papers. Through eminent domain, the City of New London was taking their homes.
She and her friends had 90 days to vacate.
Desperate to save her little pink house, Susette rallied her neighbors and launched an epic seven-year fight against a popular governor, a powerful corporation, and city officials dead set on demolishing a blue-collar neighborhood. Her struggle made national headlines and went all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
In one of the most controversial cases of our time, Kelo v. New London became infamous in 2005 when the court ruled 5-4 in favor of the government's right to take private property from one individual and turn it over to someone else capable of generating higher tax revenues.
Author Jeff Benedict will speak in the Meeting Room at Greenwich Library on Wednesday, February 4 at 7:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required. For more information, call Wynne Delmhorst at 203-622-7921.