Mount Holly residents must gear up for the fight that is before them. Politicians and private developers are teaming together to seize perfectly fine homes to make way for newer, more expensive homes the city would prefer to have in Mount Holly Gardens redevelopment zone.
Mount Holly Gardens, a community consisting mostly of African-Americans, Hispanics, and retirees, has been pitted against developer Keating Urban Partners of Philadelphia and Mayor Jules Thiessen, who have plans to destroy the existing homes in order to build 500 new homes and a retail and commercial space. Several residents have already buckled under the pressure to give up what is rightfully theirs. However, the owners of 57 homes insist their homes are not for sale.
Those same homeowners received letters in June telling them the township has hired appraisers to determine property values—an indication that officials plan to seize their properties. Many residents are shocked to hear that the homes they have owned for so long are now under threat of condemnation. Lilian Burgos-DeTorres, a 71-year-old widow, is one such resident. She has no idea where else she would live since she cannot afford the $200k houses that would replace her beloved home.
Santos Cruz is another distraught homeowner. ‘”It’s like stealing a property and robbing us worse than a Robin Hood,” he said. “We wanted to work with them (township officials), but they never tried to work with us,”’ he lamented upon receiving his letter from the township.
Greedy developers and their bureaucrat allies in New Jersey have an infamous record of eminent domain abuse. Scores of homes and businesses have been bulldozed to make way for private redevelopment across the state. Mount Holly Gardens is just one more neighborhood in their sights. The Castle Coalition is confident these residents will not go down without a fight.
 Carol Comegno, “New homes set for Mt. Holly site,” Courier-Post, May 3, 2010.
 Carol Comegno, “Eminent domain begins in Mt. Holly,” Courier-Post, June 12, 2010.