Budget establishes Connecticut Municipal Redevelopment Authority with power to seize properties, borrow money

The 2017 budget proposal establishes a new state municipal authority with the power to condemn and seize private property and borrow money to meet its development goals.

The Connecticut Municipal Redevelopment Authority was not debated during the 2017 legislative session and may be the latest attempt by Gov. Dannel Malloy’s administration to gain more authority over transit development in cities across the state.

The CMRA’s goal will be to “stimulate” transit oriented development, housing development, and “creation of vibrant, multi-dimensional downtowns.”

However, the new authority will also have the ability to “condemn properties that may be necessary or desirable to effectuate the purposes of the authority,” in conjunction with a municipality’s chief executive officer and will be held harmless for any claims arising out of a lawsuit.

The authority will be able to enter into contracts with private developers and land owners and issue bonds to borrow money for projects.

The CMRA will have authority over “member municipalities” which consist of any municipality with a population of more than 70,000 which chooses to become a member.

This could potentially include cities along Connecticut’s coastline such as Stamford, Bridgeport, and New Haven, which are all along the Metro-North railroad line.

Hartford and any capital region municipality is excluded from becoming a member municipality.

The CMRA will also have the power to accept or deny a member municipality’s economic development master plan, even if that plan has been approved by the municipality’s legislative body.

“In determining whether to approve a member municipality’s economic development master plan, the authority shall consider whether such plan includes a clear and feasible path towards achieving as many of the purposes of the authority.”

According to the language in the budget, the CMRA would be led by a board of directors and will include appointees made by the Speaker of the House, Senate President, and the Governor and will include chief elected officials from a municipality in Hartford, Fairfield, and New Haven Counties.

The board will also consist of the commissioners of labor, housing, economic development and the secretary of the Office of Policy and Management.

Gov. Malloy made a similar attempt in 2015 to create the Transit Corridor Development Authority, which would have been able to borrow money and seize property through eminent domain in and around present and future transit stations.

That effort ultimately failed. The CMRA appears to have similar authority, although seizing land through eminent domain will involve municipal authorities and membership by a municipality appears optional.

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Marc E. Fitch

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