Newtown couple does not want to lose home to eminent domain

Susan and George Oberstadt are none too happy that their house is the topic of a Newtown Legislative Council agenda item tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Municipal Center chambers on the Fairfield Hills campus. The Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance will also be part of the discussion.

The council’s agenda includes discussion about acquiring property for an access road to the new Sandy Hook Elementary School, including the possible use of eminent domain. An executive session is also scheduled related to such action.

The Oberstadts say they feel any discussion of eminent domain  is a “threat” and that they are concerned that the town will take the property where Susan Oberstadt has lived for 68 of her 69 years. Oberstadt said they were first approached by the town in April, with follow up meetings in May. Susan Oberstadt said she, though, has never felt she was negotiating with the town, but rather the town was issuing them an “ultimatum.”

At this time, Oberstadt said she is not feeling optimistic about the town’s approach. The Oberstadts and their supporters intend to propose the council other alternatives, including use of the current driveway.

In prior discussions about construction of a new school on that site, including input from staff and families, town leaders agreed it is important to create a new access into that property so as not to relive the trauma associated with the former school.

Council Chairman Mary Ann Jacob explained that the negotiations related to this property have up till now been private, but the council must give direction to First Selectman Pat Llodra about potential negotiating options. Llodra recently informed the council negotiations had stalled, and she needed direction on what to pursue next, Jacob said. Eminent domain was listed because the public must be aware that the council could offer that as an option, but that does not mean it will be an option, Jacob said.

Jacob said she expects that there will be a presentation of what has occurred to date before public comment and the council deliberations on how it will direct Llodra to proceed.


Nanci Hutson