L.B. residents rally to save their homes: Atlanticville (Long Branch NJ), 5/18/05

By Christine varno

Long Branch homeowners facing the prospect of losing their homes to redevelopment made a statement last weekend at a rally against the use of eminent domain.

The rally organized by the Beachfront South Coalition of property owners in the Beachfront South redevelopment zone was the second of its kind to be held in Long Branch this year.

One resident vowed he is not going to give up the fight.

“Like Yogi Berra said, ‘It ain’t over till it’s over’” Harold Bobrow, Ocean Boulevard, said at the rally he organized on May 15 in the parking lot of the condominium unit he owns on Ocean Boulevard.

“I do not think anyone in this group would have a problem if a hospital was going to be built, but to make a redeveloper richer is wrong.

“It may be legal, but it is certainly immoral,” he said.

Bobrow and his wife, Michelle, founded the Beachfront South Coalition in March with two goals in mind: to stop eminent domain proceedings that would take his beachfront home and, if that failed, to obtain equitable compensation for the property taken.

The rally, Bobrow said, gave residents in the Beachfront South redevelopment zone a way to join voices.

Beachfront South is a 12-acre tract of land that extends from Bath Avenue to Morris Avenue between Ocean Boulevard and Ocean Avenue. Properties in the area are slated to be taken by the city using its power of eminent domain.

In August, K. Hovnanian Shore Acquisitions, Middletown, was designated as the redeveloper of the zone. Plans call for the approximately 30 properties in the zone to be razed and replaced with a $300 million project comprising five buildings with 350 residential units that will range in cost from $400,000 up to more than $2.2 million.

Residents of the Beachfront North phase II redevelopment zone, known as MTOTSA — Marine and Ocean Terraces and Seaview Avenue — in February hosted the first rally against what they say is the city’s abuse of eminent domain.

Many residents at the Beachfront South rally on Sunday said they did not agree with the city’s vision for redevelopment.

“I do not understand why the city would take nice modern condominium developments to put up more of the cookie-cutter-style apartments and condominiums,” Alice Kessler, Long Branch, said.

Bill McLaughlin, Ocean Avenue, agreed.

“I am against eminent domain,” he said. “Taking people’s homes away for a developer to make a profit is wrong.

Other residents came out because they said they could be next.

“I am here to support the homeowners,” Donna Peterson, Rockwell Avenue, said. “This could affect us next.”

A Neptune women who lost her home through eminent domain proceedings participated in the rally.

“It is hard for me to stand here today and hold an American flag and know this can be going on in America,” Dorothy Argyros said.

“[Eminent domain] takes away what America stands for. This is going on all over.”

Atlanticville: http://atlanticville.gmnews.com