MEDIA ADVISORY: City of Long Branch v. Anzalone

MEDIA ADVISORY: City of Long Branch v. Anzalone

The Appellate Division of the Superior Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow in two eminent domain cases, City of Long Branch v. Anzalone and City of Long Branch v. Brower, on the 5th floor of the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex, 25 Market Street, Trenton, New Jersey. The arguments are before Judges Joseph Lisa, Richard Newman, and Paulette Sapp-Peterson (Panel G). The Appellate Division has issued a revised media advisory.

Louis and Lillian Anzalone, who in their nineties are the eldest residents of the MTOTSA (Marine Terrace, Ocean Terrace, Seaview Avenue) neighborhood, are represented by William J. Ward of the law firm of Carlin & Ward in Florham Park and Brian Weeks of the Office of the Public Advocate, amicus in the case. The bulk of the MTOTSA residents are represented by Peter Wegener of Bathgate, Wegener, & Wolf in Lakewood and Scott Bullock and Jeff Rowes, attorneys with the Institute for Justice in Arlington, Virginia. The IJ argued the Kelo case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The homeowners appealed the June 22, 2006 decision of Monmouth County Assignment Judge Lawrence Lawson, who ruled that the property owners were not entitled to a hearing or discovery on the “right to take” and dismissed the owners objections to the appointment of condemnation commissioners -- a final judgment on the right to take issue. This decision, issued a day before the first anniversary of the Kelo case, would allow the condemnation suits regarding the various properties to go forward. The Anzalones obtained a stay at the inception of the appeal.

The chief issues to be addressed by the court will be:
I. Conflicts of Interest and the Local Government Ethics Law as it applies to municipal officials and their legal representatives
II. Blight and its definition in light of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision in Gallenthin v. Borough of Paulsboro
III. Notice and Due Process regarding the redevelopment plan where the status of the properties in the neighborhood was changed from residential infill to properties to be acquired by condemnation.

The property owners seek a reversal of Judge Lawson's 2006 decision. In light of recent case law, attorneys representing the property owners will ask the court to dismiss the condemnation cases outright. At the very least, the matter should be remanded to the trial court for discovery and a full evidentiary hearing.

The Anzalones will be in court tomorrow for the proceedings. Louis Anzalone, a veteran of World War II and a former engineer with Lionel Trains, has always maintained that he wanted to stay in his home. "I don't want their money," he told the Public Advocate. "I want my house. From my back porch, I have a panorama of the whole ocean. It's heaven on earth."  

A rally is scheduled for 8:20 a.m. in front of the Hughes Justice Complex.