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Greenwich Daily Voice serves Greenwich, CT

Frantz Opposes Waterfront Property Rights Changes

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – A bill that would diminish the power of waterfront property owners that live on land that may be affected by erosion or damaged by storms was opposed Wednesday by state Sen. L. Scott Frantz.

“The changes proposed in the legislation appear extraordinary and call for overreaching changes in the policy of this state regarding coastal management and the right to live on the shore,” Frantz said in a statement. He is a Republican who represents part of Greenwich, New Canaan and Stamford.

The bill (HB5128), “An Act Concerning Certain Revisions to the Coastal Zone Management Statutes,” would amend the goal and policies of the existing Coastal Management Act in order “to foster strategic retreat of property ownership, over a period of several decades, for coastal lands that have a likelihood of being lost due to erosion and coastal lands that contain structures that are subject to repetitive damage.”

The state has the legal right, through eminent domain, to take private property for legitimate purposes. Frantz said this language could be interpreted as giving greater authority to the state government to force residents to waive ownership of waterfront property depending on their proximity to bodies of water or the possibility of future storm damage.

“If the state wishes to create a program to buy shoreline land and return it to its natural state, and can find the resources to accomplish that, it would be far preferable to formalizing a policy that goes against the fundamental principle of private ownership of land,” Frantz said. “To circumvent the accepted constitutional rationale that justifies the taking of private property for a public purpose seems irresponsible and profoundly wrong.”

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