Eminent domain off his agenda for now, state senator says: New Bunswick (NJ) Home News Tribune, 6/15/06

By Gregory J Volpe

[new jersey] State Sen. Ronald Rice said today he will not act on eminent domain reform during the budget season, which ends June 30.

While his Assembly counterpart, John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, has said he hopes to have a measure out of the Assembly this month, Rice, D-Essex, said he will hold several public hearings throughout the summer, if necessary, before a holding a vote.

Both lawmakers are sponsoring legislation aimed at curbing the use of eminent domain for private redevelopment and head legislative committees grappling with the issue.

The Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee is expected to vote on Burzichelli's measure Monday. Rice held a hearing on his measure today by his Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee but has not scheduled a vote.

Critics say neither measure goes far enough in protecting property owners against land grabs by government and private developers, and they complained that Rice didn't schedule testimony from activists fighting perceived eminent domain abuse or those who are in jeopardy of losing homes.

Rice opened his hearing by "scolding" them because he plans to have other hearings where other interests would be represented.

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