Paramus law would restrict eminent domain: northjersey.com (Hackensack NJ), 10/13/05

By Merry Firschein

A proposed ordinance would limit the borough's powers in taking private property for economic development.

The ordinance restricting eminent domain was introduced unanimously Tuesday by the [Paramus] Borough Council.

It would prohibit the borough from taking private property except for public use: "including but not limited to a road, hospital, military base, sewer, water line, sidewalk, right-of-way, flood control, park, open space, erosion control mechanism and the like," the proposed law states.

The ordinance is tentatively scheduled for a public hearing and vote on Oct. 25.

It would protect residents for years to come, Mayor James Tedesco said Wednesday.

"I don't believe it handcuffs us or any future elected officials in the borough," Tedesco said "I believe it gives us and them and the residents, more importantly, a safety net."

The borough's ordinance stems from a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June. In that case, Kelo v. City of New London, the high-court justices decided in a split decision that municipalities could use the power of eminent domain to take private property for economic development.

Prior to the high court's decision, eminent domain could be used solely for public use. This had been interpreted as something to benefit the public, such as a hospital or park or road, not a shopping center or office buildings as New London, Conn, wants.

Paramus' proposed ordinance prohibits that kind of action.

"Taking private property for development is unacceptable and will not happen while we are running the government of Paramus," said council President Frank Ciambrone. Ciambrone, a Democrat, introduced the measure.

Council Republicans praised the proposed ordinance.

"I'm glad to see we can make this a bipartisan effort and protect our people in the community," said Republican Councilman Frank Scott. He seconded the motion introducing the measure.

This is the second time the council has taken on the issue.

In September, council Republicans wrote a resolution banning eminent domain. That resolution, which is not binding law, was unanimously pulled from consideration because council members wanted the borough attorney to check the document's language.

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