Mediation due over beachfront properties

A Superior Court judge has set aside two potential dates in January to meet with both sides in the Long Branch eminent domain case in which the city sought to take oceanfront property for redevelopment, only to encounter an entrenched opposition from some property owners.

St. Paul to try soft touch to take land

The St. Paul Port Authority is suspending its effort to seize land from a longtime North End business in favor of trying to negotiate a deal with the company.

"Blight" plight continues

Long Branch refuses to give up. It refuses to abandon its quest to seize the properties of holdouts on Marine Terrace, Ocean Terrace and Seaview Avenues who are challenging its unlawful use of eminent domain. Rather than gracefully accepting defeat at the hands of an appellate court, city officials insist on rolling the judicial dice one more time.

Willets Pt. Congestion Cited As Plan Evolves

The future of Willets Point may rest on its overused roads. But as detractors and supporters of the proposal continue to push their case, Community Board 7’s Land Use Committee voted Monday to approve the project with conditions.

Atlantic City Planning Board tries to divide and conquer

take-business.jpg…but it’s not going to work.

Last week, the Atlantic City Planning Board approved their “recommendations” for a proposed area in need of redevelopment. It’s not necessarily “in need of redevelopment” but Pinnacle Entertainment wants to build a new casino. Since casinos are pretty much synonymous with Atlantic City, it was assumed the planning board would basically rubberstamp the plan.

But they didn’t. As The Press of Atlantic City reports, “[A]t the last minute, Planning Director William Crane recommended the exemption of a few lots within the area targeted for redevelopment, designed to allow Pinnacle to expand its property for a $1.5 billion casino project. Among those excluded was Barth’s Park Lane Apartment Hotel.”

Interestingly, also among those excluded was a condo owned by Councilman John Schultz that’s located in a “business building,” which used to house an abortion clinic before it was shut down for health violations.

One of the properties not excluded was Kim Son Jewelry owned by Quang Ha. Ha is an experienced entrepreneur, having owned a bicycle tire factory in North Vietnam before he was arrested and imprisoned for his capitalistic behavior. He escaped from Vietnam, floating on a boat to China where he ended up in a refugee camp in Hong Kong. Ha learned the jewelry trade after coming to the U.S. and set up shop in Atlantic City precisely because of the opportunity to run a successful business there.

What makes the sudden decision of the Planning Board even more perplexing is that Vince Barth and Quang Ha are both represented by Princeton attorney William Potter. Potter thought the decision suspect:

“Right now it looks to me like a curious attempt to carve out one of my clients but not the other,” said Potter, a Princeton-based attorney representing both men. “It’s definitely appropriate to carve out the Park Lane hotel, but to separate the two is arbitrary and capricious.”

The plan should come before the full city council for a vote in a couple of weeks.

Now it should be added that council members are voting on a blight designation for a project that might not even happen. Again for the Press of Atlantic City’s article:

Building a project as big and important as this, your plans are always changing,” Zeitz said. “Plans have been changing from the get-go.”

One major alteration was Pinnacle’s announcement in February that the credit crisis is preventing the $1.5 billion project from progressing. Pinnacle officials have since conceded that the property may be sold and the company could scrap plans to build in Atlantic City.

So, the bottom line is: The city council will be voting to allow the city to acquire private property to hand over to a private developer who says openly not only that it might not be able to finance the proposed project, but it might close up and leave town altogether whether or not they get the property they want.

Ha intends to keep fighting to save his jewelry business, and even though Barth’s property is safe, he intends to keep on fighting for his neighbors’ property rights. So far, the property owners still affected by the plan have Mayor Scott Evans on their side and a couple of other city council members, but it’s not certain whether the city council will approve the plan or not.

Unions love Willets Point land grab

When asked about the 225 private businesses and 1,300 current workers that would be forced to move out of Willets Point if the Council approves the mayor's plan, the union leaders were mum on labor solidarity.