Legislature Must Act Now to Stop Eminent Domain Abuses: Politics NJ, 5/29/07

[New Jersey state] Senator Diane Allen, (R-7), issued the following statement today after the release of a report by the New Jersey Department of the Public Advocate that states New Jersey law governing eminent domain use for private redevelopment is written in a way that leads to abuse.

“I am not surprised by the findings in this report. It is a fact that too many residents in modest homes, for which they have worked all their lives, fall victim to eminent domain abuse. Eminent domain was created to facilitate projects for the public good, like roads and schools. Recently use of eminent domain has mutated to allow grabbing of private property for private use.

The Public Advocate’s report also pointed out that many homeowners whose rights are violated lack the resources to engage in expensive litigation with towns. We will never know exactly how many people have had their homes wrenched from them by aggressive eminent domain actions. Home ownership is part of the American dream, but when a family loses its home, it’s not just the home that is stolen, but the family’s dreams, as well.

This abuse of eminent domain and the stealing of people’s homes by the government must stop. I have been working on this issue for a long time, and as a result of my research, have introduced several bills all of which I believe would go a long way toward putting an end to the rampant abuse of eminent domain. One of the pieces of legislation I sponsored would place a two-year moratorium on eminent domain used for private development. It has languished in the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

My other eminent domain bills would:

  • Specifically define blight, clearly indicate who would make the determination, and establish the precise criteria that would be used.
  • Ensure just compensation for both residences and businesses
  • Prevent an occupied and well maintained residence from being demolished for building developments such as a shopping center or non-public office buildings
  • Prohibit a municipal officer or employee who serves on a redevelopment or housing agency from voting on condemnation of any property for redevelopment purposes.

Sadly, not one of my eminent domain bills has even been scheduled for a hearing by the Chairman of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. The Trenton politicians have failed to respond to the cries of the people and have instead listened to promises of a quick tax fix that typically never appears.

The practice of seizing private property that is modest to replace it with high-priced private development is immoral and must be stopped. The Legislature must address this issue now.”

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