What did the five fingers say to the face? Revelation made at private meeting with the city was a slap in property owners’ faces.
NED-McGinley Square representatives met with Mayor Healy in a private meeting today. We were joined by Councilwoman Viola Richardson, Ward F’s council person who has convinced the City Council to table the vote to blight our properties twice already. We also were accompanied by Peter Dickson, a prominent eminent domain attorney in NJ who generously offered us his help. In attendance were Mayor Healy, his chief of staff Rosemary McFadden, and representatives from the JC Planning Division.
NED went to the meeting hoping to strike a compromise with the city. From earlier community meetings with the Planning Division, our group was led to believe that the city could use its eminent domain power in a “patchwork” fashion. From our understanding, properties labeled in its Study [read the study: Blight Report) as being in “poor” condition would be declared areas in need of redevelopment (thus allowing the use of eminent domain) and properties labeled as being in “fair” or “good” condition would be declared areas in need of rehabilitation (thus preventing eminent domain use).
NED was reluctant to agree to the proposed compromise because it allowed the use of eminent domain on some of the properties. However, with the vote to blight the whole study area on August 10th fast approaching, this seemed to be the most feasible option for compromise. Imagine our surprise when the Planning Division suddenly reversed its former position and stated that this was not going to be possible.
At this time, it appears there is no room for negotiation with the city. If the resolution passes, NED property owners will have 45 days from the date of the vote on August 10th to contest the blight declaration and the legal battle will begin.