2/05/2007

Two lawsuits filed against Union Township contest blight designation: New Jersey Eminent Domain Blog, 2/1/07

By William Ward

Two lawsuits were filed today against Union Township in Superior Court at the Union County Courthouse on behalf of 20 property owners. The lawsuits contest the action of the planning board, mayor, and council declaring the properties “in need of redevelopment.” The planning board met on December 19, 2006, and the mayor and council approved the resolution of the planning board declaring all the properties in the study area “in need of redevelopment” on December 26, 2006. The action taken by the mayor and council give the municipality the right to condemn all the properties by eminent domain. The property owners vigorously contest the conclusions of the planning board. The two prerogative writ suits had to be filed within 45 days of the township’s resolution in order to contest the determination of blight or “an area in need of redevelopment.”

This Saturday, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine will be present at Union Township between 1:00 and 2:30 p.m. to address residents on property tax reform and other issues. It is expected that citizens opposed to eminent domain will appear and rally in support of the property owners in Union Township who are threatened with eminent domain by virtue of the blighting of their properties in December by the township planning board, mayor, and council. The Governor will be asked where he stands on his campaign promise to halt eminent domain abuse and reform the eminent domain laws in New Jersey.

The reform of the Local Redevelopment Housing Law, Bill S-1975, is presently languishing in Senator Rice's Community and Urban Affairs Committee while the property tax issues dominate the agenda. This bill will only be acted upon if the Democratic leadership - Governor Corzine, Senate President Codey and Assembly Speaker Roberts decide to vote it out of committee and onto the Senate floor for action.
“If I am elected Governor, I will ensure that the people of New Jersey are secure, knowing that their home, which they worked and saved to own, belongs to them and may not be unfairly seized by the government. My principle on this issue is a simple one: there should be no takings of homes for economic development except in rare and exceptional circumstances and then only with adequate safeguards to ensure that the process is fair and transparent. To obtain this outcome, I support major reforms of New Jersey's public use and development laws.

While there have been many legitimate and appropriate uses of eminent domain throughout history, we have also seen abuses of this power. We have seen a family lose their home and receive just $14,000, only to see the town quickly sell the property to a developer for $60,000. We have seen so-called redevelopment plans knock down housing that was affordable to long time community residents, only to displace them with luxury condominiums, without giving any thought as to where people with roots in the neighborhood would live. With dozens of New Jersey municipalities focused on redevelopment - we need to act decisively to protect our citizens as we revitalize our aging neighborhoods. A Corzine administration will not tolerate abuse in the name of economic development." - Jon S. Corzine



New Jersey Eminent Domain Blog: http://www.njeminentdomain.com