Passaic’s Eminent Domain Abuse

7 08 2007

Trenton, NJ – New Jersey’s top law enforcement official wants tighter controls over local governments’ ability to seize private property for redevelopment, saying current eminent domain laws are ripe for corruption. Eminent domain/redevelopment has the potential for a great amount of abuse in the public-integrity area,” said Milgram. Milgram called on the Legislature to close loopholes that allow private property to be taken from residents for public projects like schools or to spur economic redevelopment.

She said the need for more oversight is obvious after two reports by Chen criticizing eminent domain.

The most recent report, in May, looked at several court cases involving misuses of the law and concluded that the system was rife with abuse. In a report the previous year, Chen called for greater protections for property owners and tenants.

In both cases, he urged the Legislature to use its legal muscle to stop land-taking abuses.

The May report cited abuses – documented in court cases – ranging from unreasonable property seizures to underpayments to property owners.

For example, a Passaic property owner lost a lot without ever knowing the town had condemned and sold the land to another private party. He found out about the sale only when he tried to pay his property taxes. In Long Branch, the city offered one homeowner about $180,000 for a five-bedroom, beachfront home that had been condemned. A jury later awarded the homeowner $500,000 for the home.

The General Assembly passed eminent-domain reform legislation a year ago. The measure, which has the support of the New Jersey League of Municipalities and Gov. Corzine, remains stalled in the Senate.

However, the New Jersey Supreme Court provided some relief to property owners when it ruled in June that local governments cannot seize land against the owner’s wishes merely because the property is underused.

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3 responses

7 08 2007
FedUpInPassaicEvenMore

Yup thats life in Passaic

7 08 2007
a.m.p.

They abuse everything else so why not this too.

14 08 2007
jones

why isn’t chris christie and the FBI investigating the passaic case from summer street?

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