Neptune ordinance would limit powers: Asbury Park NJ Press, 4/27/07

Resident: Include commercial areas

By Bill Bowman

An ordinance restricting [Neptune NJ] township's use of eminent domain in redevelopment efforts does not go far enough, the Township Committee was told Monday.

The committee introduced the ordinance and scheduled a public hearing for its meeting May 14. However, that didn't stop Rutherford Avenue resident Dorothy Argyros, a longtime critic of eminent domain abuse, from critiquing the proposal Monday night.

Argyros commended the committee for introducing the prohibition, but then criticized it for not including commercial properties.

The proposed ordinance prohibits the committee from exercising its eminent domain power — the authority to take private property for fair compensation — on owner-occupied residences provided that the owner has lived in the house for at least two years.

The ordinance would exempt residential properties that are already included in areas that have been declared in need of redevelopment, and those residential properties that the township needs to take for public use or to further public safety.

Commercial properties, though, are not included.

"I think businesses should be included, especially small businesses, where people have worked very hard to set up their businesses," Argyros said. "Ultimately, what this is about is who will get the fruits of your labors, the government, or the people who worked hard" at their businesses.

Argyros said the grass-roots group she helped found, Neighbors United, is "still committed to protecting business."

Asbury Park NJ Press: http://www.app.com