2/02/2005

How eminent domain is done elsewhere — Haddon (NJ) Herald, 2/2/05

By Dan Keashen

The foundations of liberty were reinforced in California by the Anaheim City Council in November. It passed a resolution, 3-1, with one abstention, prohibiting the city from using the power of eminent domain.

The local ordinance stopped the land grab vehicle from taking one piece of private property for the benefit of another private person or business.

According to the City of Anaheim meeting minutes the new City Council Policy No. 220 stipulates, "It is the policy of the City of Anaheim that the power of eminent domain not be used by the City Council or Redevelopment Agency to acquire property from private parties, for the express and immediate purpose of conveying such property to any other private person or entity for commercial uses, when there is no public purpose for the acquisition except the generation or increase of sales tax or property tax revenues to the City."

Many people who live in the Westmont section of Haddon Township, and all over New Jersey are experiencing the effects of eminent domain. It is used for the condemnation of private property by local municipalities in redevelopment projects under the supposed benefit of the public.

Although the Anaheim ordinance has no bearing nationally on New Jersey redevelopment law, according to the Institute for Justice, it is a positive reinforcement to people's personal property rights.

"Anytime a city reins in its power to condemn private property it's a step in the right direction and we support it. This will give private property owners a guarantee that they will be protected from a project that has no public purpose," said the coordinator of the Castle Coalition, Steven Anderson.

He said the city has highlighted what eminent domain was created for and quashed the speculative definitions of public use.

According to Anderson, The Castle Coalition - located in Washington D.C. - is an effort by private property activists to take matters into their own hands. "It was inspired by watching several communities defeat seemingly unstoppable projects to take homes and businesses to give to other private parties," said Anderson.

According to Douglas Gershuny, deputy director of the South Jersey Legal Services, many municipalities in New Jersey - including Haddon Township and Westville - will use eminent domain to build their tax rateables base.

"They've used municipal economic impact for the definition of public use. The same with the big corporations like Wal-mart...they operate under the guise of creating jobs as contributing to the public good," said Gershuny, adding these definitions are skewed towards developers.

While the legislation from Anaheim did not make national news it gave hope for the thousands of threatened property owners watching the Kelo vs. City of New London Supreme Court case.

The Castle Coalition hopes to see more municipalities honor their residents by protecting their liberties with similar legislation.


The Haddon Herald: www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?brd=1695