Eminent domain use gets 'no' vote: Today's Sunbeam, Salem NJ, 9/29/06

By Christopher Weir

[Pittsgrove NJ] Township committee members have voted not to use eminent domain at a redevelopment zone, but allowed themselves the option of instituting it in the future, according to officials.

The committee also continued to work on the redevelopment zone area that is expected to lower taxes in the township.

Eminent domain allows government to take private property for projects for the overall public good.

The eminent domain language was instituted into the township's redevelopment plan for the area at Landis and Gershal avenues. The redevelopment zone is expected to bring in several businesses to the township and lower taxes in the community by increasing township ratables, according to the committee.

The committee had four options to choose from on the eminent domain issue, but determined that there were no properties in the area that it is necessary to enact eminent domain in order to acquire, according to Clerk Constance Garton. The eminent domain language adopted by the committee this week will only apply to the redevelopment zone.

Mayor Peter Voros said the committee felt it was the best option for residents.

"We've decided on verbiage that will protect the residents of Pittsgrove," Voros said. "If it's needed in the future, we'll address it at that time, but will do so in a way where our residents will be protected."

Voros said the committee has been working with the economic development committee to create a plan for the redevelopment zone.

The project at the zone will include the demolition of the building currently on the property, which used to be the U.S. Grain and Seed Building. The property has significant value because of its proximity to a railway line.

The committee also passed a motion to send an application to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs to have the Landis Avenue area designated as a redevelopment zone.

Voros said having the area recognized by the state will enhance the area financially, allow the township to obtain low interest loans from the state to develop the area, and make it more attractive to companies who are considering locating their businesses there.

"It gives potential companies a cut and dry idea of what they need to do to place their business there," Voros said.

"Our quest is to increase the ratables in the township to lessen the tax burden on our longtime residents and senior citizens," Voros said. "That's our number one priority. We're not leaving any rock unturned to try and lower taxes for our residents."

Today's Sunbeam, Salem NJ: http://www.nj.com/news/sunbeam