Owner raises issue of property rights: Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger, 6/12/05

Letter to the Editor
By George Mytrowitz, Newark Business Owner

Newark’s mayor and council election is a year away but candidates are already lining up and making declarations about what they will do to create a better Newark. As a long-time Newark property owner, I hope that some of these candidates come forward to address the vital issue of the future of property rights in this city.

The current administration seems to care nothing about private property and is more than willing to take homes and thriving businesses and hand them over to politically connected builders. Not surprisingly, the developers most favored by city hall are also important campaign donors to the mayor and council.

Redevelopment is important to any older city such as Newark. However, it must be done with a purpose – to improve the lives of the city residents, not the bottom line of developers. Redevelopment should be done fairly and without the taint of favoritism or political corruption. Too often, the “little guy” is forgotten in the mega million dollar deals: the families that lived here for generations or the business that has been here for decades and dutifully paid their taxes get nothing from redevelopment.

Currently the city is touting the Mulberry Street Redevelopment plan – a $550 million, 2,000 condominium unit project that is displacing hundreds of people and scores of businesses. None of the property owners have been asked to participate in the redevelopment process – we have just been told to sell or the city will take our property.

Newark voters in other wards should take heed of the Mulberry Street project and be very wary of their future property rights. The city council is taking steps to make condemnation of private property for redevelopment easier as it moves to take control over more and more neighborhoods. Your house, your business could be the next victim of the mayor and council’s desire to cut deals with developers. Before considering who you will back in next year’s city election, you should demand to know which candidates will protect your right to own private property – and which ones will take your home and give it to a developer.

Newark Star-Ledger: www.nj.com/starledger