Opposing views of how eminent domain is applied: Asbury Park (NJ) Press, 6/28/06

Letter to the editor
Judge failed to address public use in Long Branch

By Lee and Denise Hoagland

On June 22, Superior Court Judge Lawrence M. Lawson lawfully stripped our family and neighbors of the American Dream. ("Long Branch wins eminent domain suit; Paves way for redevelopment," June 23.) The judge's opinion was abusive. Long Branch City Attorney James G. Aaron and Mayor Adam Schneider could not have written the response better themselves.

In reading the opinion, one fact is still missing. What is the public use? Or public purpose? We keep skipping the core of this argument. What is the purpose? What is the reasoning behind taking our homes?

What will the taxpaying citizens of Long Branch get in return? Higher taxes (don't think they aren't coming soon), selected areas maintained, public housing with a "preferred" waiting list and restaurants and retail stores the average homeowner cannot afford to participate in. This seems more like a "cleansing."

Improving the quality of life for Long Branch citizens? How can making people homeless improve quality of life? There is an old movie that was played in the '70s called "The Lottery." In the movie, every year there is a stoning of one person.

The situation in Long Branch and eminent domain abuse across the country needs to be humanized. We are human people who are being stoned. Think about being unwelcome in your community, outcast and berated. Unfortunately, this is our reality.

Depending on the outcome of an appeal to the Appellate Division of state Superior Court, we could be homeless soon. If that day comes, it will be painful because the community and citizens of Long Branch permitted this to happen. We all participate in volunteer work throughout the community for food pantries, counseling, child abuse, domestic violence, fighting disease and working on the PTO or PTA. But Long Branch citizens find it acceptable to turn their heads on stripping people of their livelihoods while holding their breaths with the hope they will not be picked for the lottery of demise. Only when it becomes tangible do people react.

Politicians depend on the lack of participation by their citizens. With the lack of voting in Long Branch, this is proved to be true. People are under the misconception that this can't happen to them until their lottery number has been pulled. We are not casting stones. We are merely opening the window to expose the reality of suffrage that the community in Long Branch is in denial of and has accepted as a common practice.

Asbury Park Press: www.app.com