Ansonia Resets Clock In Eminent Domain Case

The City of Ansonia is going back to the negotiating table with the company that owns the downtown property where it wants to move the police department.

The Board of Aldermen voted to take the property — 65 Main St. — by eminent domain last month from Shaw Growth Ventures, a New York-based company that had acquired it in a foreclosure case.

The Aldermen’s vote came after the city and Shaw were unable to strike a deal for the sale of the property — which the city sees as a lynchpin in its plans to transform downtown — despite months of negotiations.

Each side accused the other of negotiating in bad faith.

But in the weeks since the vote a lawyer representing the company has reached out to the city, according to John Marini, Ansonia’s corporation counsel.

The Valley Indy left a message for the property owner’s lawyer last week.

Marini said the city has a clear right to take the property because it wants it for a public use — moving the police department there.

But . . .

. . . if the property is taken through eminent domain, Shaw could still appeal the city’s $1,850,000 valuation.

“There would be a lot of time and energy spent litigating the value of this for a year or more,” Marini said.

So the city will see if they can strike a bargain with Shaw after all.

The two sides plan to meet this week.

“We’ll give it a shot,” Marini said.

The Jan. 12 eminent domain filing would have allowed the city to take the property after 35 days, Marini said.

On Thursday (Feb. 1) the city withdrew that paperwork, then filed a new eminent domain case.

Essentially, that reset the 35-day clock, giving the city a little breathing room to see if officials can come to an agreement with Shaw.

“We’re prepared to go ahead with eminent domain,” Marini said. “However there’s a potential on both sides . . . that we could come to a voluntary resolution that could be wrapped up in a much more expedient manner.”

The new filing also notes the company owes the city $41,912.31 in unpaid property taxes and a $60 sewer use fee on 65 Main St.

If the talks turn out to be fruitless it could delay the police department’s move by two to three weeks.

Marini said the city will also try to get a parking lot on a portion of the property reopened to the public.

Shaw closed the lot — used by many customers of businesses across Main Street — after the Aldermen’s eminent domain vote.

“When we sit down at the table with Shaw we’re going to be discussing that as a major topic,” Marini said.

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