“Hi, I am Mayor Peter “Petey” McPeters of Jersey Shore, N.J. And I have trouble with E.D. First off, I have no idea what E.D. is.”
Some mayors are not the brightest bulbs on the tree.
Mr. Mayor: E.D. is eminent domain, and it’s in the New Jersey Constitution as well as the US Constitution. The Mayor is the chief executive officer in a town, and has the power to appoint members of the various zoning boards, planning boards and boards of adjustment. And the Mayor must have a working rudimentary understanding of eminent domain in in order to appoint the right people to those boards.
Without that knowledge, the town can get themselves in to a mess o’trouble. This is especially so with yesterday's New Jersey Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain.
The Court made it tougher for towns to take land through eminent domain for private development. In the Star-Ledger today Public Advocate Ron Chen said, "It is going to go a long way to preventing eminent domain abuse." The story even made papers outside of NJ.
Some in the Senate disagreed, though, such as Senate Majority Leader Bernard F. Kenny Jr. (D., Hudson), who argued, “that eminent domain has long been used, especially by urban areas, to promote redevelopment” and that the rulling will “create a litigation nightmare in the state that will paralyze redevelopment."
As my Jewish grandmother would say, “Both are a little right. Let’s meet in the middle.” But she would say it in Yiddish, trying to break up a fight between two children.
In my town of Flemington there are several projects that could develop in one of two ways. One of them is the Flemington Cut Glass property, currently owned by Hunterdon County Freeholder George Muller. It could be torn down to make way for more condos, with more people, more families, more children, more traffic, and higher property taxes. That would make Freeholder Muller a nice payday, but impact the neighborhood negatively.
Or it could be turned in to a railroad station with a light rail that connects eventually to the New Jersey Transit Line to Newark and New York. That plan would include commercial development, parking, and a way directly in and out of Flemington --- that would increase the value of our residential properties.
Should eminent domain be used for such a project?
As my grandmother would say, “Both are a little right. Let’s meet in the middle.”