Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Don’t think this can happen to you?


Still don’t believe the city could force you to sell your property and then hand it over to a developer for its own private gain? Approximately 50% of Jersey City’s livable space is under a redevelopment plan. Check out the blue areas on the city’s zoning map. McGinley Square East makes Redevelopment Area Number 83 on the list. How often does this happen? This is the third time one McGinley Square property owner is being subjected to eminent domain. The last time it happened to him was in 2009 for a property downtown. Eminent domain has also been abused in the case of Mr. Cheng Tan and the Kerrigans.

Redevelopment is simply a pretty way of saying your property is blighted and an excuse for the city to invoke eminent domain to turn your property over to a private developer at a bargain price.

Do you know that your property can be declared blighted, regardless of the actual condition of your house? Houses that the city itself has declared in good and fair condition (meaning having no code violations, being well-maintained, not posing any hazards to the community) are being included in redevelopment plans all over Jersey City. The redevelopment label is being attached to properties, not because of their intrinsic condition, but because a private developer wants the land, as is the case with the McGinley Square East area.

Eminent domain for private development is a property owner’s nightmare because it involves a complex area of law. Challenges to eminent domain are very expensive and time-consuming to litigate. Also, the governing laws are technical and ever-changing. Lastly, the stakes run high: the developer’s opportunity for profit is immeasurable and the property owner faces permanent displacement from his home. As a sign of the times, advocates like the ACLU-NJ and the NJ Public Advocate (whose position was eliminated on July 1, 2010) are unable to assist due to budgetary constraints. Thankfully, The Institute for Justice in Washington, D.C. and the Castle Coalition have been working with NED to educate homeowners on the process of eminent domain. Property owners may have no choice but to foot the bill on their own.

Help stop eminent domain abuse in Jersey City before it happens to you. Support McGinley Square residents. YOU CAN SHOW YOUR SUPPORT BY SIGNING OUR PETITION ONLINE AT:

In addition, you can let your councilpersons know that eminent domain is the wrong way to change Jersey City. YOU CAN GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR COUNCILPERSONS by calling or sending email to:

Peter Brennan - Council President, 201-547-5319,

Ray Velazquez - Councilman at large, 201-547-5268,

Kalimah Ahmad - Councilwoman at large, 201-547-5137,

Mike Sottolano - Ward A, 201-547-5098,

Dave Donnelly - Ward B, 201-547-5092,

Nidia Lopez - Ward C, 201-547-5159,

William Gaughan - Ward D, 201-547-5485,

Steve Fulop - Ward E, 201-547-5315,

Viola Richardson - Ward F, 201-547-5361,

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