Eminent domain still a possibility in negotiations for West Haven outlet mall

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WEST HAVEN--Dozens met in West Haven on Wednesday night to join in on the negotiations for a propped outlet mall.

The issue at hand was re-appropriating land. A few property owners in town are not happy with the deals they've been offered to sell the land that their homes and businesses sit on, which are being bought to make room for the mall.

The City Council met at the West Haven High School with some of the disgruntled residents to discuss the eminent domain issue, which needs to be resolved to make the mall a reality. In all, 55 locations need to be demolished. Of the owners of those locations, all but two have closed are in contract with the developer.

If those two residents continue to hold out, eminent domain is an option that the city is willing to consider.

"Eminent domain, I think that it should be an absolute last case scenario," said Mayor Ed O'Brien. "You know no one wants to take anyone's property."

One of the two still in negotiations, Martin McGinnity, is not happy about the possibility. "If eminent domain is shoved down my throat, I've not yet begun to fight," he said.

Another resident, John Pascale, also thought it was unfair. "How can you put people out of their homes? People out of their businesses? Would you like it if it was happening to you?"

The Haven Group insists it is negotiating in good faith. Matt Armstrong, the executive vice president of development for the company, said, "I want everyone to be treated fairly. And I want to be able to close all these transactions and get started with construction."

Not everyone's against it. In fact, some residents think the mall is a great idea.

"Think about it. It could be such an opportunity," said Nancy Guman, who supports the proposal.

George Sherman, another resident, agreed with her. "We let this walk away, we're sending a message to anybody else out there who wants to develop in West Haven: 'We're closed for business.'"