Neptune turns attention to eminent domain rules: Asbury Park NJ Press, 5/16/07

By Bill Bowman

The [Neptune NJ] Township Committee is taking another look at a proposed ordinance that would restrict its use of eminent domain in redevelopment efforts.

The committee was scheduled to vote Monday on an ordinance that offered some restrictions on the use of eminent domain on residential properties and none for commercial properties. The ordinance was meant to replace a "Property Owners Bill of Rights" the committee passed by resolution several years ago.

Township Attorney Gene Anthony has said he believes resolutions are not transferable from one municipal administration to another.

Committeewoman Mary Beth Jahn suggested tabling the ordinance because, she said Tuesday, she did not want to "settle for something that isn't adequate."

She said an alternate ordinance proposed by Committeeman Tom Catley was "interesting," but said she'd also been doing some "soul searching" on the issue.

"I want to sit down and take a look at both of them and see if we can do a little better," she said.

The committee will take up the matter at its next workshop session, set for 6 p.m. May 29 at the municipal building, 25 Neptune Blvd.

Eminent domain is the practice of government of taking private property for fair consideration. Critics have said some towns are abusing that power to allow private developers to profit.

Catley last week suggested strengthening the ordinance to include protections for commercial properties and strengthening protections for residential property owners.

For example, the ordinance that was tabled required a residential property owner to have lived in a house for at least two years before any eminent domain prohibition would be attached to it. Catley's suggestion would remove that threshold and allow a residential property owner to pass the protection onto other family members who may inherit or buy the property.

Jahn said she also thinks the ordinance should include protections for commercial property owners.

Asbury Park NJ Press: www.app.com