Lodi drops its eminent domain appeal

In a surprise development at a Monday night meeting in Lodi, the five members of the Borough Council voted unanimously to drop the appeal of a lower state court decision that found the borough had no grounds to blight land belonging to Brown's Trailer Park and Costa Trailer Court. More than 40 residents were affected by the town's attempt to seize the properties by eminent domain.

As reported in the Herald News, the president of Save Our Homes, the coalition of trailer park residents, Kendall Kardt said, " “I believe that a lot of people in town found this repugnant  on a lot of levels. They felt threatened themselves by the idea that eminent domain could be used to put people out of their homes.”

The decision in the case, issued by Bergen County Superior Court Judge Richard Donohue, was under appeal and pending at the time of the Borough Council's decision.  The Office of the Public Advocate submitted an amicus brief in this case on behalf of the property owners. Public Advocate Ronald Chen said, “In this matter, the trial court reached the correct ultimate conclusion – Lodi’s blight designation must fail."

The Council's decision now ends Lodi's attempts to seize these properties under the Local Redevelopment Housing Law. The decision by the Lodi Borough Council is further evidence that New Jersey municipalites are rethinking their redevelopment efforts in light of the N.J. Supreme Court's decision in Gallethin Realty v. Borough of Paulsboro.