October 3, 2005
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Plainfield
 
Court foes target Breyer's property
Tactic mirrors bid to take Souter's home


July 29. 2005 8:00AM

P
LAINFIELD - If the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire and its allies have their way, someday two stone monuments will stand on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer's Plainfield property.

Short of that, the Libertarians hope to cause Breyer some discomfort for his vote last month on a controversial court decision freeing cities and towns to take land and turn it over to private developers. They are planning a petition drive asking Plainfield voters to take Breyer's 167-acre vacation retreat by eminent domain at their 2006 Town Meeting. After ousting the Breyers, the Libertarians would create "Constitution Park," to include one monument commemorating the U.S. Constitution and another for the New Hampshire Constitution.

"The point is: What goes around, comes around," said Mike Lorrey, the Libertarian Party's vice chairman in New Hampshire's Second Congressional District. "This is a way of saying, 'You're going to be held to your own standard.'"

The effort follows up a California businessman's proposal to test that court's decision by taking Justice David Souter's Weare farm by eminent domain and replacing it with a "Lost Liberty Hotel." Lorrey said that Edward Naile, president of the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers, has recruited some Plainfield residents to seek signatures for the petition involving Breyer's land. Naile did not return messages left for him Wednesday.

"We just started it up the other day," Lorrey said. "We're just getting going."

At the town offices in Meriden yesterday, Plainfield officials said they have yet to see any proposal come in resembling the letter that Logan Darrow Clements, CEO of the Los Angeles-based Freestar Media, faxed to Weare Town Hall last month.

"We haven't had a person call, ask a question or anything along those lines," Town Administrator Steve Halleran said.

"When it comes, if it comes, it'll be fun to see what happens,"Halleran added.

If a petitioner comes up the long, winding driveway to Breyer's 4,964-square-foot log house looking for signatures, that person probably won't find caretaker Gordon Wilder in a fun mood. Wednesday, he told a reporter seeking Breyer's opinion on the Libertarian Party's eminent domain proposal to leave immediately or expect a call to the police.

After Clements's letter reached the Weare town hall last month, citing Souter's street address, it soon found its way onto the Web site of conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh. The town responded by posting police cruisers at the edge of Souter's property.

Clements's company styles itself as fighting "abusive" government through a Web site and a cable television show. In his fax, Clements pointed to the 5-4 Supreme Court decision supported by Breyer, Souter and fellow justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy. The majority upheld the constitutionality of a decision by the city of New London, Conn., to take a neighborhood of homes along the city's waterfront by eminent domain and turn the property over to a private developer who would build offices, upscale housing and a $300 million research center.

According to town records, the Breyer property is assessed at $617,300. Thanks to a current-use credit on the land surrounding the house, Breyer pays property taxes on $199,003 of the total value.

------ End of article

By DAVID CORRIVEAU

Valley News




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