To fight Eminent Domain abuse: Write to Ronald Chen, the Public Advocate -    home

Posted Nov. 20, 2006  From The Appraisal Institute's Appraiser News Online:
Voters Approve Eminent Domain Restriction Measures; South Carolina Limits Value Increase

Eminent domain was the most prevalent issue among the 205 measures on ballots in 37 states in the November 7 elections. Voters weighed in on the hot-button ballot initiatives, passing measures in nine of 11 states to regulate how local governments exercise eminent domain. Proposals to regulate the government's ability to seize property were approved in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon and South Carolina, but failed in Idaho and California.


Washington state rejected an initiative that would have required state and local authorities to compensate property owners if land-use regulations lowered the value of their property – language also included in Arizona's winning measure and in Idaho and California's failing initiatives.


Also in Tuesday’s voting, South Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment that will limit increases in the value of real estate for property tax purposes to no more than 15 percent every five years. The limits, approved by a 67 percent majority, will apply after the current value of a property has been adjusted to reflect improvements or to reflect a decline in value. Adjustments also would reflect the value of the parcel when ownership changes.


June 22, 2006

"The Fight Has Just Begun!!" Chip Mellor, Pres. Institute for Justice, in LB

Public Advocate Ronald Chen Will File Amicus Brief and Castle Coalition Takes MTOTSA Owners' Case to Courts!! Listen to Report from Long Branch Now   I of J will challenge city's right to delegate its ED Authority... 


The Avenging Squad - Lawyers Tom Wegener,  NJ, Chip Mellor & Scott Bullock of Institute for Justice,Va., "This is not about a blighted neighborhood," said Bullock. "This is about that..." pointing to the Atlantic Ocean. See below:

Ronald Chen spoke directly with the L.B. homeowners on Asbury Radio on June 22, 2006. Listen to that show now.

Press Advisory:                                                     For Further Information
Aug. 29, 2006                                                             Contact: Steven T. Walker:



Public Advocate to Address Use of Eminent Domain in Long Branch

Long Branch, NJ --Public Advocate Ronald K. Chen will join with members of MTOTSA and the Institute for Justice tomorrow to announce the latest legal development in the lawsuit brought by the 38 city residents who are fighting the condemnation of their beachfront homes to make way for an upscale condominium project. The group of homeowners are referred to under the acronym MTOTSA (Marine Terrace, Ocean Terrace and Seaview Avenue), which represents the streets on which the condemned properties are located.

On May 18, 2006, the Public Advocate issued a report with recommended reforms needed to prevent abuses and ensure fairness for property owners.


Who:            Ronald K. Chen, Public Advocate

                Representative, Institute for Justice

                Representatives, MTOTSA

When:  11 a.m., Aug. 30, 2006

Where: Home of Long Branch resident Denise Hoagland -- 68 Ocean Terrace, Long Branch


WEDNESDAY: MTOTSA will be having a press conference at 68 Ocean Terrace at approx 11am. We would like to have a decent showing of public support. We know it is a work day for many, but if you are off that day, we would appreciate your attendance. It shouldn't be no more then 30-45mins.


Lori Ann Vendetti
MTOTSA Alliance

on Asbury Radio

  Listen to Show Now - Read the Mail Decisions  Bills      Divest Hovnanian Stock

Read Castle Coalition's Latest Reports on E.D. Abuse - NJ Public Advocate Ronald Chen- 9 - 9:30 Tonight ~ Burzichelli Bill Passes 52 to 18 with 9 abstentions


(lft) Wm. Ward, Esq. Asm. John Burzichelli,  Susan Ward, Lori Vendetti and Bill Giordano of Long Branch. On the phone: Public Advocate Ronald Chen           

javascript:openimage('009p1_xlg.jpg',307,284)Asbury Radio Hosts the Eminent Domain Experts Jun 22, 2006 - NJ Public Advocate Ronald Chen, Assembly member and Chair of the Economic Development Committee John Burzichelli, author of Assembly Bill A-3257, (Amendments ), Attorney Bill Ward, Attorney Bill Potter, chair of the N.J. Coalition against Eminent Domain Abuse, Long Branch residents Bill Giordano and Lori Vendetti, whose homes are being taken, and Sharon Wise, of the L.B. Condo Coalition bring us up to date on their struggle for justice. Click here to listen to that show now. Please check this site and visit these links. Read about Eminent Domain through a child's eyes. Daisy Hoagland
Retooled eminent-domain limits face Assembly vote
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 06/20/06

TRENTON — An Assembly panel approved limits on the use of eminent domain Monday after more changes that left some critics less averse and some supporters reconsidering their position.

After making many changes in the two weeks since Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, introduced the measure aimed at giving residents more protection from government taking people's land for private redevelopment, the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee approved it 6-1, sending it to the full Assembly for a vote Thursday.

The bill requires more notification when a municipality is considering taking land for redevelopment, more compensation to those who lose property, and a greater burden of proof on government for the necessity of taking land.

The strongest criticism Monday revolved around pay-to-play, the practice of rewarding political donors with government contracts. The latest changes subject redevelopers to pay-to-play bans if they aren't named via a "fair and open" process. The language mirrors the state ban except that it removes the threshold limiting it to contracts over $17,500 because many redevelopment contracts don't involve money.

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth, who cast the lone vote against the bill in the committee, wanted to ban all contributions for six years and implement an anti-nepotism provision.

"I can't vote to create a new process that is easily corruptable," Handlin said.

Public Advocate Ronald Chen and environmentalists also lamented the lack of a stronger pay-to-play provision.

"When redevelopment occurs, there's a tremendous amount of money at stake, and the government assumes awesome powers," Chen said. "Pay-to-play reform is essential to eliminate some of the appearances of impropriety."

Chen praised the efforts to objectively define blight, limiting the reasons government can take private land, but said the bill should do more than require replacing government-subsidized — and not all — affordable housing units.

Other changes brought some praise from one of the measure's biggest critics.

"Each time we meet, it does seem to get better," New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said to Burzichelli. "I'd like a couple more meetings, but I know you don't want to do that."

Two of the measure's biggest supporters seemed less enthused.

The New Jersey Builders Association is reconsidering its support over concerns that it might impose unfair burdens on projects that don't involve taking property, make developers disclose compensation given to property owners in a redevelopment area, and mandate a period of 20 business days in which those displaced have rights of first refusal for the new construction.

The New Jersey State League of Municipalities still supports the proposal but is concerned it will become more restrictive.

"We just want to make sure that, at the end of the day and after all these changes, that we don't go so far . . . that we dampen economic development in the state," said William Dressel Jr., the league's director.

Burzichelli said he has reached a fair balance between municipalities' need to revitalize and homeowner protection by mandating more hurdles for towns and higher prices for taking land.

Burzichelli expects the bill to be approved by the full Assembly on Thursday. It has made no progress in the Senate, where Sen. Ronald Rice, D-Essex, has sponsored a different eminent-domain bill that he doesn't expect to move until after the summer.

In a message dated 6/19/2006 11:23:16 AM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:
       please be advised that it is inaccurate to say that the Burzichelli bill as amended "expands" the definition of what is blighted or what may be condemned though ED.  in fact, the bill contracts it but not enough.
       Under current law -- the 1992 statute -- has been read by courts to allow for an "area" to be so designated, always using the euphemism of redevelopment area, if the "generality" of structures w/i the area are sources of blight.
       the amended Burzichelli bill limits the amount of non blighted properties that may be included w/in a redevelopment area to 20%.  this is not good enough; we want it clear that no non blighted properties may be acquired for redevelopment purposes.   thus, the bill is an incremental improvement over existing law but does not go far enough.
       in short, the new bill does not "expand" the definition but it fails to "contract it" enough to provide full protection against an unlawful -- unconstitutional -- taking simply because other properties around it may be sources of blight.
       thank you.
       bill potter
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 06/13/06

TRENTON — Assemblyman John Burzichelli has changed the definition of blight in his eminent domain proposal that was quickly panned last week because it lacked a clear, objective definition of when government can take land for private redevelopment.

Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, announced the changes Monday as his Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee meeting held its first hearing on the bill. The panel postponed a vote until June 19.

The changes aim to restrict government from using reasons like "stagnant' or "underutilized' when taking homes.

"I don't think there's any more vagueness here," Burzichelli said.

Some critics of the original version were pleased, others confused.

"It's gotten better, but it's still a long way to go," said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club.

William Giordano, who said his Long Branch home is "under siege" by government, asked lawmakers for simple legislation that makes it clear eminent domain would rarely be used for private redevelopment.

"If I pay my mortgage, if I pay my taxes, and I keep my property up to code standards, I should be able to keep my home," Giordano said.

Bill Potter, chairman of the New Jersey Coalition Against Eminent Domain Abuse, said the flurry of changes to the proposal has him stumped.

"I'm still not sure what is the new definition of blight," Potter said.

Public Advocate Ronald K. Chen, who issued a report in May calling for a limited, objective definition of blight, issued a statement saying the proposal meets that standard.

"It revises the definition of blight so that it is more clear and objective, and appropriately restricts the ability of municipalities to use eminent domain for private redevelopment to those areas that are truly blighted," Chen, who was serving jury duty in Union County, said in a statement.

The advocate's only criticism was that the proposal did not impose stricter pay-to-play rules restriction political campaign donations for those involved with redevelopment projects.

Assemblywoman Amy H. Handlin, R-Monmouth, a member of the committee, called for a six-year blackout of political contributions between a redeveloper and the municipal government, as well as an anti-nepotism clause to ensure relatives of government officials couldn't profit from a redevelopment project.

"I see this as a common sense, kitchen table provision that's necessary to give ordinary citizens confidence in the fairness of the process," Handlin said.

Burzichelli said pay-to-play issues could be addressed through other legislation.

The bill, which Burzichelli said is still "fluid," has some points that even critics agree with: requiring that residents receive at least what it would cost to replace their home in the same community; providing more notification a municipality is looking to redevelop and possibly take homes; and shifting the burden on government to prove redevelopment is necessary.

A similar Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Ronald K. Rice, D-Essex, is scheduled for a hearing, but no vote, Thursday. An original version circulated last week did not call for residents to receive a level replacement but did implement more objective standards than Burzichelli's original proposal.

State Sen. Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, is expected to push a measure identical to Burzichelli's.

Groups representing builders, real estate agents and municipalities all supported Burzichelli's bill Monday.

The measure is a response to last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld government's right to take land for commercial redevelopment but allowed states to limit its use.

Some in New Jersey want it limited to nearly none.

"It should be the eye of the needle — it should be so small, the need to do this," said Assemblyman Guy Gregg, R-Morris, who is not on the committee. "And that's the way this legislation should be created."


Gregory J. Volpe:



*Assembly member John Burzichelli's bill to reform Eminent Domain - Read it now (amendments to follow)

MTOTSA Alliance

Marine Terrace Ocean Terrace Seaview Avenue

For Immediate Release                                                June 10,2006

Contact:           Lori Vendetti  (973) 699 –0375

William Giordano (732) 207 4832

                        Dee Hoagland (732) 233 – 0642


Rally and March Scheduled, Friday, June 23rd at 6:30pm

38 Ocean Terrace, Long Branch, NJ 07740

Activists Fighting Eminent Domain Abuse take action to reiterate the injustice served to every citizen’s property rights on June 23, 2005, by the U. S. Supreme Court in Kelo vs. New London.

June 23, 2006 . . . One year has passed since the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the city of New London, Connecticut had the right to take private homes for private development.  The Kelo decision represented a devastating day for all U.S. citizens, which jeopardized all property rights and fostered the continued abuse of eminent domain.  The outrage and intense reaction from citizens across the nation was significant and sent lawmakers scrambling to provide citizens protection were the Supreme Court failed.

 Quick reaction by legislators of many states to the ruling initiated bills to stop the abuse of eminent domain on a state level; and now a number of states passed laws that secure property rights. Unfortunately, New Jersey, one of the biggest abusers of eminent domain law, has not been one of those states.

 In the state of New Jersey there are currently over 80 municipalities that have redevelopment zones classified and have state approval to use eminent domain.  Governor Jon Corizine appointed Public Advocate Ron Chen and his first assignment was to investigate the abuse of eminent domain in New Jersey.  Assemblyman Michael Panter (D-12th District), now has a bill to initiate a moratorium on the use of eminent domain, until the legislature can provide adequate protection for property owners. There are also other legislators that are proposing various other bills.

In response to the continued outrage of the Kelo verdict, please join the MTOTSA Alliance and other EDA activists from the metropolitan area including Camden, Trenton, Newark, Bound Brook, Lodi, Jersey City, Philadelphia, Manhattan, etc, on Friday, June 23, 2006 at 6:30 PM for a rally and Walk for Justice to secure our liberty to own property as our Founders had fought so hard to provide for us.

The rally will start promptly at 6:30pm, on June 23rd at 38 Ocean Terrace, Long Branch, NJ. Parking will be available at Seven Presidents Park (just one block  north of the MTOTSA neighborhood.  There is also street parking in the area.) There will be a short rally with speakers and then a walk on Ocean Boulevard (south to Morris Ave) and north on the promenade back to the MTOTSA neighborhood. 

Assemblyman Michael Panter, attorney William Ward and attorney Bill Potter (chairman of the New Jersey Coalition Against Eminent Domain Abuse) will join the rally and speak briefly on the protection of property rights. All legislators throughout NJ will be invited to attend.  All Americans need to stand up for the protection of property rights and demonstrate that the violation of liberty in this country will not be tolerated. 

 We stand for Liberty and Justice for All!



Support MTOTSA Alliance

Marine Terrace Ocean Terrace Seaview Avenue

P.O. Box 4091 – Long Branch, NJ

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                          CONTACT: 

June 12, 2006                                                                         Lori Ann Vendetti  973-699-0375

                                                                                                Bill Giordano 732-207-4832 

Long Branch, NJ Property Owners and Activists Attended the Castle Coalition Conference in Arlington, VA - June 9 – 11, 2006


With the one-year anniversary, coming up on June 23, 2006, of the US Supreme Court’s now infamous decision in Kelo v City of New London, which allows the use of eminent domain for private profit, property owners and activists from Long Branch, NJ joined over 150 activists from around the country at the annual Castle Coalition Conference. 

The Castle Coalition is the Institute for Justice’s nationwide grassroots property rights activism project.  They help home and small business owners protect themselves and stand up to the greedy governments and developers who seek to take private property for their own gain.

Those attending the conference included MTOTSA members, Lori Ann Vendetti and William “Bill” Giordano.  Bruce McCloud, Long Branch homeowner and victim of eminent domain abuse when he was forcibly and involuntarily evicted from his home, which was later demolished. Mr. McCloud was physically evicted from his home on Nov. 6, 2002 and still has not been compensated for his loss.  Mr. McCloud continues fighting for justice. Also in attendance was Jim Keelan, Long Branch homeowner and business owner of J&M Keelan Transportation Corp, whose properties are under the threat of eminent domain abuse in the City of Long Branch’s Broadway Arts Phase.

Between 1998 and 2003, according to the Institute for Justice, more then 10,000 properties were threatened or condemned for private economic development.  Since Kelo, the floodgates have opened and an additional 4,000 properties are threatened to be taken from their owners and transferred to politically connected developers and tax hungry governments.  This is the same scenario that is currently happening in Long Branch.  The City of Long Branch has already taken hundreds of private oceanfront homes and plans to continue taking more oceanfront homes.  They have directly used their power of Eminent Domain as well as the threat of Eminent Domain to transfer private ownership from long time residents and senior citizens to greedy developers, some of which include K.Hovnanian, The Applied Group and Matzel and Mumford.   


Statement by Public Advocate Ronald K. Chen


I am serving on jury duty in Union County today and I apologize for being unable to attend today’s meeting of the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee.


I would like to thank Chairman Burzichelli, the sponsor of A-3257, for holding numerous public hearings on this important topic and engaging stakeholders in a thoughtful process.  I also want to thank the members of this committee and other members of the Legislature for working diligently to reform the laws that govern the use of eminent domain for private redevelopment in New Jersey.  As the Department of the Public Advocate noted in detail in our report on this matter, these laws must be reformed to protect the rights of tenants and property owners.


The legislation proposed today marks a very important step toward reforming the laws governing redevelopment.


It revises the definition of blight so that it is more clear and objective, and appropriately restricts the ability of municipalities to use eminent domain for private redevelopment to those areas that are truly blighted, as the New Jersey Constitution requires.  

The bill also improves the redevelopment process so that it is more fair, open and transparent.  Under this legislation, tenants and property owners would receive adequate notice; there would be more meaningful opportunities for public participation and redevelopment plans would be more comprehensive and specific.   Perhaps most importantly, property owners would have a meaningful chance to appeal the blight designation and the burden of proof would rest squarely with the municipality to prove in court that the area meets the objective criteria of blight.


Finally, the legislation would ensure that both tenants and property owners are adequately compensated in the rare instances in which eminent domain is used for private redevelopment.  Homeowners would get at least the replacement value of their home, meaning no longer would a family lose their home through eminent domain and never be able to own a home again in their community.  In addition, low-income tenants would receive extended rental assistance if displaced by redevelopment.


These all are crucial reforms to ensure that the rights of tenants and property owners are protected.   I am disappointed, however, that the legislation does not include all of the affordable housing provisions we proposed in our report and that it does not include a strong ethics reform provision to address the problem of pay-to-play.  When redevelopment occurs, there is a tremendous amount of money at stake, the government assumes awesome powers, and pay to play reform is essential to eliminate even the appearance of impropriety.  Stronger ethics laws are needed to ensure the public has confidence that redevelopment efforts are conducted in an ethical manner.  


Assemblyman Burzichelli has expressed a desire to continue working with us on pay to play reforms, and we look forward to working with him and others in the Legislature on the enactment of pay to play reforms that apply to all local redevelopment projects and contractors, including consultants hired as part of the project.


October 3, 2005 - Hello everyone: 
The homeowners of the MTOTSA area in Long Branch have received what is called "14-Day Letter" from the City.  This is a statutory requirement for the City to do before commencing with eminent domain proceedings against us!
We have sent over 2000 letters to the Acting Governors office asking for a moratorium on Eminent Domain issues in the State of NJ just until the legislators can reconvene and discuss and hopefully vote on possible bills that might help save our homes! 
We need each and everyone of you to CALL the Acting Governor's office and to ask WHY HE HASN'T ACTED ON THE EMINENT DOMAIN MORATORIUM YET!  The number is 1-609-292-6000.
Lori Ann Vendetti
Hello Everyone:
We at MTOTSA want to thank everyone for all the support we have been receiving over the past two and a half years!  We are now getting ready for our legal battle to save our homes and we are not stopping our fight for justice, freedom and the right for everyone to own their own property for as long as he or she chooses to! 
Athough, we again need your help!  Besides attending our Walk and Rally on October 15th, (see flyer attached), we need each of you to e-mail Assembly Speaker Albio Sires at and Assembly Majority Leader Joe Roberts at and ask them  to move for a special session to put a moratorium on Eminent Domain so that the legislators can have time to discuss and vote on proposed bills, without one more person losing their home, that may be saved with future legislation!  We have sent over 2000 letters to the Acting Governor asking him for a moratorium and he has done nothing!   Someone out there has to start listening to the voters and the public!  We will not stop until they do!!!
Please send a quick e-mail to these to elected officials!  Also forward this e-mail to all family, freinds, co-workeers and e-mails buddies.  We again thank you!!!


Dear     Senator Palaia

            Assemblyman Corodemus

            Assemblyman Kean


My name is William D. Giordano, my family has a home at "74 Ocean Terrace, Long Branch, NJ" that was built by my great grandfather.  Unless you live in a vacuum (much like our Mayor and City Council) you know my neighborhood as MTOTSA.  I will not bore you with the sentimental stories of my family and my neighbors; after all we have an average age of homeownership of more than a half-century and these stories could go on for days. Also, I am not going to ask why my phone calls to your offices have not been returned. 


What I want to know is Where Is OUR Government!!!!!  


Senator Palaia, on a phone conversation that I had with you over two-months ago, you told me that you thought it was wrong that the properties in my neighborhood were being taken for the construction of Luxury Condominiums.  But were is your Public out Cry.  Where is you presences on the ongoing wrongful act and inappropriate use of Eminent Domain?  What are you afraid of??   Congressman Frank Pallone, stood on the lawn of my neighbor (Vendetti) and held a press conference stating that our neighborhood is a fine neighborhood.  Where is your press conference indicating the same??  


Assemblyman Kean, I read your comments in the Asbury Park Press on September 9th, 2005, when you called the taking of the MTOTSA neighborhood a tragedy; and that the system was working a terrible injustice to the people of MTOTSA.  But a few days later, on September 13, 2005, where was your presence when the Long Branch City Council approved a resolution to destroy our neighborhood.  Assemblyman Kean, is that what you do when you see the occurrence of a tragedy, walk away!  What kind or leadership is that - you recognize a tragedy in the making and do absolutely nothing to stop it!!  I appreciate the fact that you have the common ability to identify what is happening is inherently wrong, but what is your action! A press release! 

Assemblyman Panter, a democrat out of our district, sent his Chief of Staff to attend that Council meeting; and went even further by sending Mayor Adam Schneider a letter asking him not to pass the resolution that night.   Where were you Assemblyman Kean?? Where was your letter to the Mayor and/or presence of your Chief of Staff?  It is easy to make statements in the paper, it is work taking action on your stand.


Assemblyman Corodemus, I don't know were you are on the issue at all.  But if you think that the destruction of a Good Middle Class Neighborhood to construct Luxury Condominiums is an appropriate use of the Government’s ultimate power of Eminent Domain then there is something seriously wrong with your thought process.  If you think the discrimination of Senior Citizens (some of which defended the Liberty of this Country during war times), living on fixed incomes is OK when it comes to colonization of a more affluent population, then there is something seriously wrong with your mindset.   If you think that just because someone lives in a modest ranch home or cape cod, it should be destroyed because it is not an estate, then there is something wrong with your sense of importance.


Senator Palaia, Assemblyman Kean and Assemblyman Corodemus; if the three of you cannot understand that a home is where a person rests after a long day of work; or that a home is where a person retires after serving his County, raising his family and fulfilling his obligation to our society; or that a home is were you raise your children, where families and friends congregate and share joys and console each other in times of sorrow.  If you cannot comprehend that a home is made from the heart of the families that reside and not the construction components from the desires of the affluent, then you should step down from your positions because you do not represent Americans. 


You do not represent that all men are created equally and that we all have unalienable rights. 

You do not represent that we all have the Freedom to pursue Liberty and Happiness. 

You do not represent that we all have protection of property and that we are to live free of DESPOTIC CONTROL! 


If you do not Defend us you do not Believe in any of the aforementioned.  So please sirs, help us or step down because you are not fit to be Our Government. 


We have sent over three thousand (3,000) letters to Acting Governor Richard J. Codey to call a Moratorium or Special Session to Stop Condemnation practice until our legislature reconvenes to establish an appropriate use of Eminent Domain.   Help us reach out to the Acting Governor Richard J. Codey before it is to late. 


Be an American First and a politician second.

William D. Giordano, SCRREA #220

Phone: 908 - 757 - 9199
Fax: 908 - 757 - 4653


Long Branch Council Reaffirms Vote to Take Homes for Condo Construction - Homeowner William Giordano told Asbury Radio that the developer's offer of a discounted condo will not provide a backyard for his children to play in.  See APPress todayLatest from Institute for Justice - Senate Hearings

Read Supreme Court Decision on Eminent Domain    

 July 2005 -Hands Off Our Home ~ Asbury Park Property Owners Attend Eminent Domain Conference in D.C. ~ Just two weeks after the U. S. Supreme Court’s Kelo decision allowing eminent domain for private profit, activists from New York to California traveled to Washington, D.C., last weekend for a nationwide conference of home and small business owners determined to do what the Court refused to do: stop eminent domain abuse.  Rich and Johna Karpinski (in photo, left) attended to learn how to fight unjust takings throughout New Jersey. More... Others pictured are Institute for Justice Attorney Dana Berliner, Institute for Justice Attorney Bert Gall, Susette Kelo (plaintiff in Kelo vs. City of New London) and Institute for Justice lead Attorney (who argued before the US Supreme Court) Scott Bullock.Eminent Domain, The Redevelopment Zone & You    (see photos below)

6/23/05 -Supreme Court Sides with Developers on Eminent Domain Question

2/05-Eminent Domain Draws Crowds in Neptune, Asbury Park and Long Branch

Asbury Park Councilmember John Hamilton attended all three rallies to support the New London, Ct. residents fighting Eminent Domain. The Supreme court will hear the case, represented by lawyers from Institute for Justice's Castle Coalition, Tues. 2/22. Crowds grew from 25 in Neptune, to 55 in Asbury Park and over 200 in Long Branch. About 30 cities across the U.S. protested against eminent domain, says I for J.

Here is an excerpt from Restore's show on eminent domain held 7/17/03

Partial Transcript of July 17, 2003 show on Eminent Domain - to hear full show, click

The principals on this tape: Attorney Ed McKirdy of the firm *McKirdy Riskin, in Morristown, Paul Fernicola, Esq of *Bowe & Fernicola LLC, Red Bank, John J Curley, Esq LLC, of Hoboken, Dorothy Argyros, a retired attorney and activist, whose own Neptune, NJ home is currently subject to eminent domain, host Maureen Nevin and guest co-host Frank D’Alessandro, all of NJ.

This excerpt begins when the discussion has turned to valuing condemned property fairly. Ed McKirdy makes the point that property owners usually receive a price based on an appraisal that uses sales from at least six months ago in estimating the compensation the municipality should pay the property owner.

Host, Maureen Nevin, notes that in Asbury Park the development rights holder is not subject to the same fate as the common home owner. In this case the development rights holder in selling parcels of the waterfront to developers does not use that formula, but rather one that anticipates the future value of the property.

Fernicola:  What I think Maureen is referring to is that here in Asbury Park, where the designated redeveloper is admittedly is not going to develop a single unit, but is entering into contracts with traditional developers and classifying them as sub-developers. (The sub-developers) are required to pay the designated redeveloper a per unit value plus the infrastructure costs for those units.

For example, the current designated redeveloper, the property’s going to be condemned; they’re going to use the current zoning that’s in place. But then he’s turning around and using the current density under the redevelopment plan to then flip that property to the sub-developer and charging a $75,000 per dwelling unit basis, plus $15,000 per for infrastructure costs and in some cases he wants to buy back at below cost the commercial space that’s going to occupy the first floor.

McKirdy: And there’s no mechanism for the original owner of the property to share in any of that potential. So if the redevelopment process had not taken place you’d get 100%. Obviously there are some benefits to having a redeveloper develop an entire area. But the present system does not adequately compensate the people whose property is being taken.

Nevin: I just can’t see the gain in this. Jack (Curley), give us the other perspective.

Curley: Well, I’m going to give you a different perspective. Like I said I don’t know anything about Asbury Park. But the agreement that was just described is unlike any redevelopment agreement I’ve ever seen.  Most redevelopment agreements have provisions that prevent the redeveloper from transferring the interest that the developer acquires to the property until he’s completed the project. In other words, most agreements have an anti-land speculation provision in them. And, in those instances the redeveloper is actually doing the work on the ground. And what was described to me just now, is that the redeveloper is almost acting as a broker, which is quite different than anything I’ve ever seen in this field.

(End of Transcription - The tape continues…)


*Bowe & Fernicola and the McKirdy & Riskin firms are among a group of law firms representing Asbury Park property owners. They did not discuss their clients’ cases. Jack Curley largely represents municipalities in eminent domain cases – the other side of the fence.

A useful website on Eminent Domain -

See Christian Science Monitor Article re Eminent Domain 5/9/03

Copy Below Revised 5/7/03

Topic for 2/20/03 Restore was Eminent Domain and Asbury's Redevelopment Plan.
Listen now to the 2/20 show with Rich DePetro of Britwoods Urban Renewal, Red Bank attorney Paul Fernicola, a specialist in condemnation and redevelopment, local residents none of whom were participating in the lawsuit regarding the redevelopment plan and our callers. *Feedback welcome.

Can you buy a property in the redevelopment zone?
Can you improve a property you own in the redevelopment zone?
Initially, there were two zones - redevelopment and rehabilitation. The distinction is important since we were told people in the rehab zone would not be forced to sell - thru eminent domain - unless they were neglecting their properties, not getting permits to fix them up, etc. Now people say they've had difficulty obtaining these permits.
Others tell us they've been advised by zoning not to buy property in the redevelopment zone - an area described as 5 blocks west of the ocean, from Wesley to Sunset lakes.
[**This was misinformation. See Clarification Below]
If you have information - whether it contradicts or supports - concerning these allegations, please respond via email.
Point to ponder - what is the effect on this city, if buyers are discouraged from purchasing or making improvements NOW in the redevelopment zone?  Doesn't that depress the value of this area? Don't depressed values mean owners of higher valued properties have to take up the slack in the tax base?

[**Note ]  According to James Boral, who oversees the zoning office for Asbury Park, there still are two designations under the Waterfront Redevelopment Area (WRA) – The first extends from Ocean Av to Bergh St. - known as the Primary Zone. The Primary Zone carries condemnation rights - if the master developer wants a property, the owner can be forced to sell to him. The second district, extends from Bergh or Web to Grand Ave, and is the Rehab and Infill Zone. Boral says no one working for the city should advise anyone not to buy a property anywhere. NOTE: It was originally thought that the city would not apply the same procedures to owners in the Rehab or Infill Zone, such as requiring them to appear before the Technical Review Committee (TRC) for building improvement or use variance applications. However, property owners are being required to do just that. The city may or may not do redevelopment in the Rehab Zone in the future. It was originally planned that the rehab zone designation was intended more to make sure everyone fixed up their houses, with its eminent domain fallback. However, in a situation where the developer wants a property, which can be argued is not being kept up to code, that property owner could find himself or herself facing a condemnation battle - despite it being located outside of the primary redevelopment zone.

Specifically, in the North End: Ocean to Web is Primary, Web to Grand is Rehab zone.
Some of the principals in this lawsuit, a request for summary judgment from the court to allow property owners to improve their property in the redevelopment zone, are under fire themselves. Critics charge they're opportunists at best, and at worst saboteurs of the redevelopment. DePetro defends his position by supplying documents supporting his (the owners') desire to protect the historic value of the buildings, letters that pre-date this round of redevelopment. See for yourself:

1. Letter from DePetro to NJ DEP, 9/29/95

2. Application to Dept of Interior for Historic Desig. of Jersey Apts.

3. Application to Dept of Interior for Historic Desig. of Britwoods Court

4. Evaluation from Dept of Interior re. Britwoods

5. Letter from DePetro to Councilperson Mellina, April 3, 2002

6. Letter from DePetro to Asbury Park Planning Board, April 15, 2002

*The purpose of this site and the radio show is to add to the body of knowledge through the exchange of opinion. Therefore, Restore welcomes comments on the 2/20 show and related issues. However, name calling, innuendo and rumor don't serve anyone and will not be posted here. Anyone with factual information and supported opinions is invited to write us. Read what others have to say.

Restore Follows Progress of Jersey & Brittwood

        (lft) The Jersey now Photo by Ortiz






(Below)  The Brittwood Now


  and Interiors /hardwood floors, marble in Baths


  Brittwood Court BEFORE