Ventnor City, N.J., bans eminent domain for private development

From 1999 to 2005, 332 families and 27 businesses in a diverse 28-acre area of Ventnor City, N.J., located next to Atlantic City, lived under the threat of eminent domain. At the time, the city cited the need to reduce density as the reason for redevelopment–even though the project’s design would have done little to reduce density. Although the project’s developer backed off in 2005, citizens’ outrage remained.

Finally, at a city commissioners meeting last week, the city’s three commissioners voted unanimously to ban eminent domain for private development. The ordinance says that the city “shall not take by eminent domain any property for the purpose of transferring the same to a private entity for resale or profit.”

Amazingly, at the meeting, no one in attendance spoke in favor of eminent domain.