Belmar, N.J., bans eminent domain for redevelopment

Although the Belmar limited its use of eminent domain in private development to exclude the condemnation and seizure of owner-occupied home in 2005, the borough found itself denied twice in court for its attempts to designate businesses blighted (and thus eligible to be seized via eminent domain) without enough evidence. In response to that (and the worsening economy), Belmar has extended its eminent domain to all properties, so that all property owners in Belmar are now protected from eminent domain for private development.

The lone dissenter on the city council said that the legislation is “silly” and wasn’t needed because of the NJ Supreme Court’s decision in the Gallenthin case–even though the state constitution gives municipalities the right to use eminent domain for redevelopment purposes.

The Asbury Park Press agreed that the ban is silly but for a different reason: the redevelopment plans in Belmar have been shelved due to the economy. However, the Press said a local ban “wouldn’t be necessary if the state Legislature stopped dragging its feet on eminent domain reform.”

That would be nice.