Comments submitted to Senator Ronald Rice and the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee addressing bill S-1975, which seeks to amend the Local Redevelopment Housing Law (LHRL) and portions of the Eminent Domain Act of 1971.
The key points are as follows:
- The definition of blight should be clearly defined and related to a current characteristic of decay and deterioration. The definition of blight should not exceed the consitutional limitation.
- Environmental clean up plans initiated with the DEP should supercede subsection (i); furthermore, the aggregate of parcels should not lead to the "Berman-ization" of New Jersey.
- Transparency of process affects both property owners and tenants. Both property owners and tenants should receive notice of all proposed action by the muncipality.
- Time restrictions of blight designations are required to prevent abuse; the determination should remain in effect for a period of five years from the date of the adoption of the ordinance declaring a property in an area in need of redevelopment.
- The relationships between municipal government and their attorneys, developers, contractors and consultants should be called to the highest ethical standards and there should be prohibitions against "pay to play" and other conflicts of interest.
- The legislation should be effective and be applicable to ongoing condemnation cases within one month of signing into law by the Governor and should apply to all pending condemnation cases.
- There should be the following additional changes to the Eminent Domain Act of 1971:
a. Section 3-25 of the Act should be amended to require the condemning authority in Local Redevelopment Housing cases to file the Declaration of Taking and deposit in Superior Court Trust Funds within 30 days of the filing of the eminent domain complaint.
b. A provision should be added to the Eminent Domain Act to mandate the Civil Assignment Judge to give priority scheduling to all eminent domain cases.
c. The date of declaration of blight as a value date should be deleted. N.J.S.A. 20:3-30 (a)-(d) should be amended. The (d) subsection should be removed. It is now being used to force a lower value on property owners condemned within a blighted area.
The full text of Mr Ward's comments are online at http://www.njeminentdomain.com/state-of-new-jersey-new-jersey-eminent-domain-reform-comments-on-s1975.html
New Jersey Eminent Domain Blog: http://www.njeminentdomain.com