Bloomfield consents to cease eminent domain

Lardieri building

The long, contentious three-year litigation over Bloomfield’s redevelopment and its attempts to secure properties by eminent domain is over. The New Jersey Superior Court entered an order approved by Essex County Assignment Judge Patricia Costello dismissing Lardieri et al v. Township of Bloomfield (ESX-L-8929-06) on the express condition that Bloomfield would not use its power of eminent domain to acquire the five plaintiffs’ properties.

The order was approved in a resolution by the Bloomfield Township Planning Board, the Mayor and Council. Both the resolution and the order establish that Bloomfield, when it selects a new developer, cannot use eminent domain to acquire private properties for the project, and the developer can acquire properties only through arms length negotiations. Most importantly, eminent domain has been removed from the developer’s arsenal.  

In a related case, 110 Washington Street v. Bloomfield, the corporation’s partners are proceeding with the development of their own parcel in accordance with the redevelopment plan. Once the planning board finalizes the approval of 110 Washington Street’s plan for high rise residential development, Bloomfield will see progress.

A municipality can achieve economic revitalization through its zoning powers without condemning large swaths of properties and dislocating long established businesses. This mechanism will attract private capital to the redevelopment area and achieve the economic objectives through market forces without eminent domain.

“Eminent domain isn’t the key to economic development,” said Anaheim, California Mayor Curt Pringle in his report, Development Without Eminent Domain, published by the Institute for Justice.
Pringle achieved Anaheim's redevelopment objectives without condemning properties. His efforts should be a template for all muncipalities that desire redevelopment but oppose taking private properties for economic benefit through eminent domain.  Perhaps Bloomfield Mayor Raymond McCarthy and the township council have set a similar standard for New Jersey.

Written By:Terry Tan On June 13, 2007 6:59 AM

The property owner may have achieved some kind of victory as regards to condemnation. Unfortunately, the reality is the governing body can continue its assault on property rights using its police powers, e.g. Zoning, etc . Small property owners may not have the financial resources to continue defending their rights since the attack can be from different angles.
Recent case in point decided on June 6, 2007, in Cotler,Peirson vs Township of Pilesgrove, the Town exercised its zoning powers to limit the use of the land. The owners filed a suit against the town but the Superior Court in Salem County ruled in favor of the town. The suit was appealed and reversed by the Appellate Division (see Docket A-0092-06T2). Even though the owner had some kind of reprieve, the financial legal cost could be overwhelming. Thus overcoming a condemnation as in Bloomfield may not be the end of the story. Those who are bent on acquiring your property will continue to use less apparent methods. Unless we become more proactive on such issues, New Jersey property owners will continue to be in danger of such onslaught.