Resistance to eminent domain grows in city: Atlanticville (Long Branch NJ), 4/13/05

Redevelopment gives rise to residents’ group, business alliance

By Christine Varno

Plans to redevelop the Long Branch oceanfront and Broadway areas are moving ahead, while more residents join together to fight the loss of their properties through eminent domain.

This week, it was announced that a group is forming for owners of commercial properties who are concerned about their properties in the city’s redevelopment zones.

Against this backdrop of growing advocacy, the city is pushing ahead with redevelopment plans and last week met with developers who presented plans for the Broadway triangle, or gateway, zone.

Last Sunday, the Beachfront South Coalition, formed just last month, met for the second time to discuss the next steps in fighting what they say is an abuse of eminent domain, according to coalition founder Harold Bobrow.

“The meeting went well,” Bobrow said. “We had about 12 people attend, and some of them were new faces.

“Everybody is showing up because we are all concerned about what is going on in [Long Branch].”

At the meeting, Ray Miller Jr., of Coach Classics on South Broadway, announced plans to form the Long Branch Retail Business Alliance Against Eminent Domain specifically for owners of businesses who are concerned that their properties will be taken through eminent domain.

Miller said Monday that the new business alliance will be open to business owners in any of the redevelopment zones. The alliance’s first meeting will be held on Sunday, April 24, at Coach Classics beginning at 1 p.m.

He said plans are to join forces with MTOTSA and Beachfront South to resist the taking of properties through eminent domain.

The redevelopment zone where Bobrow and his wife live, Beachfront South, is a 12-acre tract of land that extends from Bath Avenue to Morris Avenue, between Ocean Boulevard and Ocean Avenue.

In August, K. Hovnanian Shore Acquisitions, Middletown, was designated as the redeveloper of the zone, and plans call for razing the existing neighborhood of approximately 30 properties and constructing a $300 million project.

The Beachfront South Coalition is the second group of residents living within one of the city’s six redevelopment zones to join together to fight eminent domain.

The first group, MTOTSA — residents of Marine Terrace, Ocean Terrace and Seaview Avenue — was formed over a year ago by people living in the Beachfront North, phase II, redevelopment zone.

That area is a three-street neighborhood comprised of 36 properties that is slated for eminent domain. Plans call for the area to be bulldozed and replaced with upscale condominiums.

MTOTSA has hired attorney Peter H. Wegener, of Lakewood, to represent the group in opposing the taking of their properties by the city through eminent domain.

A member of MTOTSA attended the Beachfront South meeting as did residents from other redevelopment zones.

“There were people here from other city redevelopment zones,” Bobrow said. “I think people want to see what we are doing and find out what they can do.”

“It will be for businesses in the redevelopment zones that are worried about the taking of their properties by the city,” according to Bobrow, who said that was how Miller explained the new coalition at the Beachfront South meeting, which was closed to the press.

The Broadway Arts and Entertainment Zone extends 72 acres from Second Avenue west to the railroad tracks, and on Nov. 9, Broadway Arts LLC were declared potential developers for 9 acres of the zone, from Second Avenue to Memorial Avenue, and from Union Avenue to the north and Belmont Avenue to the south.

The city is also moving forward with redevelopment plans on the 40 acres in the Broadway Arts and Entertainment Zone, known as the Broadway Gateway sector.

On April 7, Howard Woolley, city business administrator; Pratap Talwar, city planner; and other city officials met with some 10 to 11 potential developers who are interested in developing the Broadway Gateway sector, which extends from Chelsea to Cooper Avenue, between Second Avenue and Ocean Boulevard.

“We talked about the developers projects to get more information so we can move further with the redevelopment project,” Woolley said.

Atlanticville: http://atlanticville.gmnews.com