Solicitor - State won't allow eminent domain referendums: The Press of Atlantic City NJ, 2/22/07

By Saba Ali

Any referendum, binding or nonbinding, will go against the state statute that protects the city's use of eminent domain in redevelopment zones, said City Solicitor Richard McCarthy.

Millville First learned Tuesday night that the estimated 1,100 signatures it collected would not receive any further action on the part of city.

The petition was intended to force the city to either create an ordinance to ban eminent domain or place it as a referendum on the next ballot.

Emil Van Hook, president of Millville First, said the group would discuss its next step to push their petition forward. He said asking for a nonbinding referendum could be a possibility.

A nonbinding referendum places the question on the ballot, but the city is not obligated to follow the outcome of the vote.

Millville First, an organization of residents concerned about redevelopment and property taxes, had been collecting the signatures for the past few months.
Lew Thompson, city administrator, explained to those present at the commission meeting that eminent domain in the redevelopment areas is a power that is protected by state statute. Any effort to restrict eminent domain is in direct violation of that statute.

Van Hook said he was familiar with the state statute and was expecting such a response, but he was hoping that the city would see how opposed residents were against the use of eminent domain.

“This a state issue and any type of referendum would be inappropriate,” McCarthy said.

The Press of Atlantic City NJ: http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com