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Family Battling Town of Bloomfield in Eminent Domain Dispute

A family is fighting the Town of Bloomfield’s attempt to take their property by eminent domain.

With “a heavy and angry heart” Amy Geigner took to Facebook to vent.

She wrote an open letter about the Town of Bloomfield’s plan to seize her fiancé’s seven-acre property through use of eminent domain.

But it’s more than just property to her fiancé, Harry Sawyer.

It’s a race track.

The land features a full motocross track that’s enjoyed by friends and family, including Sawyer’s six year old son Austin and Geigner’s daughter, Kasey.

“I don’t want to sell the property.  I just bought it,” Sawyer told Fox CT.

The town has offered Sawyer $41,000 for the land, but he says it’s worth much more.

He purchased it in September from his acquaintance, Charles Smith, for $99,000.

Smith had owned the land for years and built the track himself at an estimated cost of $25,000.

He sold the land to Sawyer around the same time that the town began inquiring about a possible purchase of the property.

Sawyer says Smith’s son stopped riding his bike so he decided to sell.

But Smith was at the property on Thursday, when Fox CT interviewed Sawyer.

Bloomfield’s Town Attorney, Marc Needelman, says Bloomfield commissioned two independent appraisals of the land, which both valued the property at about $41,000.

“Look, the town and the town government wouldn’t be looking to spend money to acquire property if it couldn’t justify it to the taxpayers,” says Needelman.

The bike track borders Bloomfield’s public works department and that plays into the town’s plans for usage of Sawyer’s property.

The town wants to expand the public works department facility onto the land for fuel tank housing and storage.

The situation is very emotional for Sawyer and his family, who consider the land and the track, priceless.

Sawyer doesn’t want to sell the land, regardless of the price.

He says the space and availability of a personal race track are hard to come by in Connecticut.

“I like riding on the big track and riding without training wheels. I like that,” said son, Austin Sawyer.

Geigner’s 15 year old daughter, Kasey, also rides motocross.

“Not fair at all,” she said in reference to the town’s proposed takeover.

Sawyer calls the town’s proposal a “land grab” and while he’s never met him personally, he called Needelman a “heartless son of a b****” in a note sent to the attorney.

In his defense, Sawyer references basic rights in the U.S. Constitution and cites  statutues such as 47-1 which states “Each proprietor in fee simple of lands has an absolute and direct dominion and property in the same, and all patents and grants of lands from the General Assembly of the colony of Connecticut, pursuant to the charter of Charles II, shall be sufficient evidence of a title in fee simple to the grantees, their heirs, successors and assigns forever.”

Sawyer says the town is acting outside the law.

“The sole owner of the property… which is me. I own it outright… it can’t be zoned, they just can’t take it,” says Sawyer.

Attorney Needelman disagrees with Sawyer, saying the law is on the side of the town in this matter.

“We’re complying with the law.  It’s unfortunate it impacts them in the way they’ve laid out,” says Needelman.

Ultimately, Sawyer can choose to accept the $41,000 offer or he’ll be forced to get his own appraisal and fight for more money.

He can also hire an attorney and try to fight the town’s eminent domain claim, but he likely faces an uphill battle, considering the broad pro-government precedent set in the landmark supreme court ruling in the Kelo v. City of New London case decided in 2005.

Either way, Sawyer says the “taking” of his property just isn’t fair and leaves his family crushed.

“Eminent domain is just fluff out of some lawyer’s behind,” says Sawyer.

Needelman says Bloomfield rarely uses eminent domain – only twice in the past 30 years.

Meanwhile, Sawyer has 90 days to file an official response with the courts.

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22 comments

  • Pam Bouley

    This is just crazy. It needs to stop. We all need to band together to fight this injustice. The lawyer is so smug. How would he feel if it was his backyard. I'm certain he would be digging into different books. I just can't believe you can buy something then someone can take it away! I thought that was called stealing.

  • AMaine

    This may seem trivial , ” just a Dirtbike track”, buts it’s far from that. That track brings family’s there every season to practice their sport. The majority of the riders there are children. I doubt if it was a basketball court the town would look at it twice. Thanks for doing this story and please follow up with Harry as he takes on city hall.

  • Matt

    All citizens of CT need to band together the government is outta control. Organize a rally. Get all the dirtbike riders you can together and let’s protest. Take our bikes down main street. Interrupt traffic. Run from the cops when they come or ride right over their cars. Its bullshit that the tax paying ATV and dirtbike community is shunned in CT.

  • Kevin Blake

    This is beyond pathetic. Where are the politicians fighting for this family. Someone buys something for $99,000 and the "Town" decides 25 acres is worth $41,000? If it was purchased for $99,000 that is the VERY least what it is worth. And this lawyer "it is unfortunate that it impacts his family" For just once I wish the shoe was on the other foot and these empty suits were helpless. GO HARRY!

    • Kelo.is.theft!

      Improvements to the land are allowed to be added to the parcels value. I am sure the town appraiser " neglected " to consider to the $25,000 MX track construction costs as an improvement in their appraisal.

  • Harry Sawyer

    The state, unlike market participants, does not make its transactions through voluntary persuasion and bargaining, but through violence and the threat of violence. Certainly in the case of Eminent Domain — which means "supreme lordship" — we see that the victims of seized assets have never consented, otherwise a pure exchange could take place that requires no police power. No such coerced transaction can be said to entail "just compensation," since compensation is only just when the party being compensated agrees to the deal.

    Oftentimes, the state claims it is offering a "fair market value" for the property it seeks to seize, but this is a sham. The market price for something is, by definition, the price that both parties consent to. In a fair market exchange, each party gives up something he values less for something he values more, or else he wouldn't agree to it.

  • Harry Sawyer

    Sec. 47-1. Fee simple an absolute property. Colonial grants valid. Each proprietor in fee simple of lands has an absolute and direct dominion and property in the same, and all patents and grants of lands from the General Assembly of the colony of Connecticut, pursuant to the charter of Charles II, shall be sufficient evidence of a title in fee simple to the grantees, their heirs, successors and assigns forever.

  • Nick Palazzi

    Anyone who rides or used to ride will tell you the hardest thing is finding a place to ride. Are you telling me the ONLY place for the town to expand is on this guy’s track he bought and built for his friends and family? No other neighbors? Not an abandoned property anywhere in the whole town. That’s bs pure and simple. I’m sure that even if this guy wins the town will find some way to bully him into shutting it down.

  • keep smiling

    Government isn't only interested in ranch land out west. A government that can give you everything you need can take everything you have. Try buying 25 acres at less than $2000 per acre anywhere in CT, especially if you can build on it! Keep voting in the same people over and over and all you will get is more of the same.

  • roger gauthier

    In my opinion. yes it is his land n he can do whatever he wants with it. n no it is not right for the town to be doing this. but southwick was a legendary track for the pros and the kids trying to make it to pro level it was the track that “tested your limits” i raced southwick 2 times. it was fun and very difficult . In my opinion it isnt right that he took the only real sand track around, away from everybody , theres very very few sand tracks that r legitimate sand tracks. i think he should open it back up . he could easly make his mony back and make an extreme living off of running a southwick series. i was upset when i saw southeick wasnt running anymore . i loved the place it was pure. but thats just my opinion . i hope it opens up one day again n i know alot of other riders hope the same .

  • New London Resident

    Tell the mayor to drive to New London and see how well the land grab worked here. The land has been sitting vacant for years creating a loss of tax money. So the town grabs what it sees as undeveloped acreage and looses the tax revenue. Would jobs be created? Has the plan been laid out for the taxpayers will ultimately pay for it? It all seems pretty weak at this point.

  • Lynn Meyer

    get together and facebook tweet or whatever means you have and boycott all spending in this town. Hit them in the pocketbook. Don't use local services like food, clothing or fuel stores. Go to neighboring town for your needs. Let the local business's know that is what you are doing and will continue until this is resolved. Everyone has plenty of friends and family and can make it work if persistant. Best of luck! I have been fighting the state here in Wisconsin as well.

  • Shannon

    We are asking people to come out for the May 12th Town Council meeting in support of this family – Residents of Bloomfield will be able to go into the meeting and be heard, all of us non residents will be there.. with our support and maybe a sign or two? Let the people living in this town know what the people representing them are doing with their money. Bloomfield had plenty of opportunity to purchase this land while it was for sale, for a fair price! What they are doing is stealing plain and simple. https://www.facebook.com/events/534346690008163/

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