Westville reform on hold

Although they supported the ordinance to ban eminent domain on occupied residential properties earlier this week, members of the Westville borough council opposed the proposed measure last night. Although the council was split, Mayor Russel Welsh cast the deciding vote blocking the introduction of the “Residential Homeowner Protection Ordinance.”

Welsh, as quoted by the Gloucester County Times, seems to be a bit inconsistent with his reasoning for sending the measure back to be analyzed by the council’s ordinance committee. At first, he says that he’s worried about protecting absentee landlords and other people who own property but don’t actually live in the redevelopment zone. But then, we get another reason–and perhaps the real reason, since he calls it his “primary concern”: he’s afraid of “hold-outs.” Welsh says a reform ordinance “isn’t dead,” but the delay and inconsistent support of it, should be worrying for residents. Hopefully, citizens will help local officials realize that protecting property from eminent domain abuse is necessary.