By Lee and Denise Hoagland
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case of Kelo vs. New London, a hearing that may set precedent on nationwide use of eminent domain. The media seems to assume that this case will not have any effect on eminent domain abuses in Monmouth County. We strongly disagree. We believe our case to be even stronger than that of Kelo. There is no doubt that Long Branch is taking homes and properties and giving them to private developers.
Here are some questions Long Branch residents should be concerned about: Why is the city thinking of purchasing these properties through eminent domain first without the developer's involvement? Is the city banking more property? Where is the developer's agreement and contract? Where is the money coming from to purchase these properties? Another bond for the city's taxpayers to pay off? How much in bonds does that total? The city reportedly used all of a state redevelopment relocation grant, so who is going to pay for this? The developer? Think again! Why is it that Long Branch didn't have a revaluation of properties for 20 years and now there is going to be another assessment in 2007?
The appraisers hired by the city are preparing assessments and photographing the faults of homes, instead of the positives, in order to prepare for condemnation proceedings. They are not presenting fair market values. They also have been making suggestions to senior citizens and others that they cannot win this fight. This is not what I hope the city intended when it hired this firm.
And the failure of the council to pass a pay-to-play bill is outrageous. Why? Because the whole redevelopment structure is based on pay-to-play.
Long Branch, this is going to affect all of you. Please join us Sunday [2/20/05] at 3 p.m. to Walk the Walk. We will be walking from Ocean Terrace to Broadway and back again to show the city that we are not going to lose our city to private developers.
Asbury Park Press: www.app.com