We are a group of property owners who have organized to fight back against the city’s abuse of eminent domain to acquire our properties.
Stop Eminent Domain Abuse in West Haven: Our homes and businesses are within the footprint of The Haven. The city has authorized the use of eminent domain to condemn our properties against our will if we don’t want to sell. But the government can’t force us out of our homes and businesses for a private development—that’s eminent domain abuse. If we want to sell, it has to be on our terms—the government can’t force us to the negotiating table.
Meet the property owners
Sheik Hossain and Saed Ahmed, owners of Citgo Gas Station and S&S Minimart
Sheik Hossain and Saed Ahmed have been friends and business partners for nearly three decades. Together, the two Bangladeshi immigrants have been working at their Citgo gas station and S&S Minimart on the corner of Elm Street and First Avenue for fifteen years. Both men have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and dedicated years of work to make their business successful.
“We’re dependent on this business,” Sheik says. “If they take this from us, we are jobless.”
It’s not just Sheik and Saed that will suffer. Sheik’s brother came to the United States just last year, but many in his family and Saed’s family have been living in West Haven for almost twenty years. There are also the people who work in the business. All told, Citgo gas station and S&S Minimart employ ten people—all of whom will lose their jobs if the city forcibly takes their land.
“You spend your whole life investing in something, and someone says, ‘We’re going to take it,’” Sheik says sadly. “We don’t have other skills, we’re older. We can’t just go and work somewhere else.”
Sheik and Saed have heard the mayor say publically that he already has the authority to proceed with eminent domain if property owners don’t agree to sell their land.
“They’re kicking out the small businesses,” Sheik says. “If they were building a school or a hospital, okay, we don’t mind. But everyone agrees it is a bad idea to build a mall. They all say, ‘No, we hate eminent domain.’”
Robert McGinnity, West Haven resident for nearly 50 years
Robert McGinnity has been living on First Avenue for nearly fifty years. A retired railroad worker in his mid-60s, Robert used to share the space with his parents and grandparents. Now it’s just him and his uncle. Besides the home he lives in, Robert owns the well-kept lot next door, which has a sprawling green lawn and a small building space. Sadly, he may be forced to leave them soon—both of Robert’s lots are targeted for demolition for West Haven’s multimillion dollar mall.
Robert says that while the city has gone out of their way to accommodate companies with money and influence, they have had no problem taking advantage of those with limited resources.
“I’m just one of their peasants. They just come and take my property. Why don’t I get the same treatment? I’ve been living here with my family 50 years.”
The threat of eminent domain continues to poison the well of negotiations, as the developers make offers that property owners say is well below the fair market value of their homes
“It’s one thing to buy my house,” Robert says. “It’s another to just take it.”