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Darien Letter: Malloy Looks To Grab Land Near Metro-North Train Stations

The train station in Bridgeport
The train station in Bridgeport Photo Credit: File

DARIEN, Conn. -- The Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Please send letters to darien@dailyvoice.com.

To the editor: 

Don’t look now, but Gov. Dannel Malloy’s trying to take your land, or at least control of the land around your local train or bus station.

When the Connecticut Department of Transportation recently tried to shove a private development down the throats of Stamford under the guise of “transit-oriented development” in replacing the garage at the train station, city fathers were justifiably upset. They voted through a zoning change giving them some say on the project, as well they should.

As revenge, Malloy is now proposing a statewide Transit Corridor Development Authority that would big-foot the towns and cities, giving the state control over land, buildings and development within a half-mile of all transit stations.

Your favorite coffee shop across from your Metro-North stop could be torn down and replaced with offices. Parking lots could be enlarged with fees set by the CDOT. If the state wants to erect a building taller than local zoning laws allow, too bad, they can and will.

As one critic said, “eminent domain on steroids.” The TCDA would be run by political appointees, a majority controlled by the governor and not answerable to residents.

The agency could issue its own bonds financed by rents and taxes on the very structures it wants built. The TCDA would have the power to condemn property that it alone claims it needs to further its goals. Town and regional planning and zoning boards would be, powerless to stop them.

Because train and stations are usually in the downtown of cities and towns, those municipalities would lose control of the development destiny of their very core.

The governor’s bill would have us believe that Hartford knows what’s best, not our mayors and first selectmen. The private developer chosen for the Stamford garage project donated $165,000 to the State Democrats before and after his selection. Yet, there’s nothing in the governor’s TCDA bill (HB 6851) to prevent such “pay-for-play” activities.

As governor, Malloy has no qualms at telling 169 towns and cities in this state that he knows best, that Hartford will determine if skyscrapers built by private developers should be plopped down in your town and mine.

Transit-oriented development makes sense and should be encouraged. We all need to promote housing and commercial growth focusing on our train and bus stations. But this is a local issue, not a state right.

If we are to preserve the local identity and feel of our communities, we must keep control of our destiny. Tell your state representative and state senator you oppose HB 6851 and Malloy’s land-grab. 

Jim Cameron

Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group and a member of the Darien RTM. You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com or visit www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com.

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