Bill and Linda Small bought 2.5 acres of property in 1999 and had grand visions of what they wanted to build. After years of bureaucracy obstructing their plans, they decided to open an amish furniture store on the site, with dreams of one day realizing their ultimate vision for the land. But all of their plans came to a halt late last year when the Township Committee of East Greenwich, N.J., declared their property “in need of redevelopment.” This month, the township was considering a redevelopment plan for the properties they declared “blighted,” which would have put Bill and Linda on the chopping block should their vision for their property not match the town’s.
The township planner and mayor both insisted they had no plans to use eminent domain in the near future, but agreed that eminent domain was included in the redevelopment plan in case the Small’s did not go along with the township’s “vision” for their property. The Small’s had already spent a tremendous amount of money on architects and engineers to design plans for their property, but the township’s threat of seizure put these to a halt.
Upon hearing of their situation, the Castle Coalition reached out to the Smalls in September to offer them grassroots assistance and train them how to fight eminent domain abuse. Bill and Linda followed the tips and strategies outlined in the Castle Coalition’s Eminent Domain Abuse Survival Guide, and attended every township meeting to voice their opposition to the redevelopment designation looming over their property.
The Institute for Justice sent a letter to the mayor and township council urging them to drop their plans and reject eminent domain abuse.
The township knew they could not continue to bully the Smalls any more. On December 28th, the council voted to change the designation of their property from “redevelopment” to “rehabilitation,” which is not accompanied by the power of eminent domain.
With the threat of eminent domain no longer hanging over them, Bill and Linda can now concentrate on running their business and developing the property according to their own “vision.”