Glassboro group to hold protest on eminent domain: Cherry Hill NJ Courier Post, 11/27/07

By Jeanne Ridgway

Glassboro United, a group of local [Glassboro NJ] residents, plans to demonstrate at 7 tonight at 213 W. High St., a property the borough took from its former owner, Suliman Arifi, by condemnation proceedings earlier this year.

The group will conduct the demonstration to show its concern about the public taking of private property, particularly by eminent domain, said Eric Morales, a member of Glassboro United, which formed earlier this month.

After the demonstration, the group will attend a borough council meeting to ask the governing body to relinquish its right to use eminent domain as an option to obtain private property for redevelopment. The meeting will begin at 8 p.m.

Morales said the group also will ask questions about an $8 million bond ordinance the borough plans to use to acquire property within the planned Rowan Boulevard redevelopment area. A public hearing on the bond will be conducted tonight.

Glassboro is involved in an ambitious project to create a thriving downtown retail district, a plan expected to cost $140 million in public and private investment. Phase one requires the borough to acquire about 40 properties in the Rowan Boulevard area.

To date, no Glassboro property has been taken by eminent domain, borough Administrator Joseph Brigandi Jr. said. Instead, the borough is entering into contracts with individuals to buy targeted properties at mutually agreeable prices, he said.

Some residents, however, say they want eminent domain to be taken off the table completely, Morales said.

Arifi, owner of the condemned West High Street property, at first accepted and then refused a borough offer to acquire his building, Brigandi said.

The building, which is not in the Rowan Boulevard area, was eventually condemned because Arifi did not adequately address code violations, Brigandi said, adding Arifi is now pursuing the matter in court.

Arifi's attorney, Frank W. Thatcher, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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