12/12/2005

Encap and eminent domain: NA Today (North Arlington NJ)

Editorial

The rights of property owners seems to be at stake if EnCap gets its way.

Some Porete Avenue business owners nearly revolted at a meeting earlier this week when told they must vacate to make way for the controversial mega development.

EnCap attorney Eric Wisler claims he wants to "work hand in hand with property owners."

That's a strange claim when owners are organizing and threatening to go to court to save their properties.

Eminent domain is a dangerous step that is a threat to every property owner.

It sets a precedent that a private property can be seized not for the public good, but for the economic well being of a private developer.

What parameters are being placed on the usage of such a controversial determination? Can eminent domain be used haphazardly by EnCap? Why is EnCap considered a partner of the borough when in fact EnCap is suing the borough for lower assessments?

How can you talk about vacating property on one-hand while filing a tax appeal in another?

That seems to be exactly what EnCap is doing.

The North Arlington governing body needs to reign-in the explosion of potential development now taking place.

You have the prospect of literally thousands of new residents and nearly 500 new school-age children as predicted by this website over a year ago.

What is the real financial impact as opposed to the economic benefit?

The real question is this: does the impact outweigh the benefit?

The borough has secured $17 million dollars over five years. But what would be the cost of a new school? How about a police substation or firehouse? Where will the money come from to construct such essential public services in lieu of this population explosion?

What would be the cost of new teachers, police officers and other municipal employees? How do you stabilize municipal taxes if the population of the community doubles?

$25 million dollars? $35 million dollars? What exactly is the cost to homeowners? When will this information be made public for all to evaluate?

As lawyers huddle in back rooms from public view, residents are beginning to wonder what exactly is happening. Predetermined agendas are an insult to most people. EnCap's inability to deliver the specifics and details of this project seem almost endless.

When will taxpayers get a straight answer on anything when it applies to Arlington Valley?

The governing body to its credit has formulated a citizens committee to evaluate the path of redevelopment. But when is this committee going to actually meet? When will these meetings take place? What is the mission statement of this committee?

Apparently Borough Administrator Tim Roberts will chair this committee if and when they meet. Given the numerous plans on the table and the number of people these plans will create, when does Mr. Roberts plan to call this committee of citizens together to evaluate these proposals?

Mr. Roberts is a stranger to North Arlington. He lacks the contacts or the relationships with the community to create a comfort level with homeowners. When does he plan to engage this community as the day to day municipal manager?

Eminent domain is a weapon, not a tool of government.

To haphazardly use eminent domain stirs a fear with any homeowner that this could happen to them. This government needs to demonstrate to homeowners that eminent domain is a tool of last resort, not a weapon of expedient change.


NA Today: www.natoday.net