Would you please email Christina Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign on to the letter below? The letter asks the New Jersey legislature to pass reform that will stop the abuse of eminent domain for private development in Mount Holly and across New Jersey. We are asking activists, property owners and local officials across New Jersey as well as state and national organizations to sign in support of much-needed and long-overdue eminent domain reform in the Garden State.
As many of you already know, the Township of Mount Holly is destroying the Gardens, a close-knit community of row houses that up until recently was home to over 300 families. The township has bought over 200 homes under the threat of eminent domain, and if the remaining owners don’t sell soon, they will be condemned. The town claims they want everyone out by the holidays so they can hand the land over to a private developer. As the letter below states, most of the homeowners are elderly and African American or Hispanic and nearly all are first-time home buyers who’ve lived in the Gardens for over thirty years.
This abuse is emblematic of the serious and dangerous shortcomings in New Jersey’s eminent domain law that allows the government to run roughshod over property owners’ rights. In the wake of Kelo, 43 states have reformed their laws, but New Jersey has done nothing. The time to act is now so that homeowners in the Gardens and across New Jersey can keep what is rightfully theirs.
Please sign onto the letter by Friday, December 17, by e-mailing me your name, hometown, and title or affiliation if you represent an organization. Please also indicate if you have been a victim of eminent domain abuse. We will send this letter to all state legislators and potentially run newspaper ads listing supporters of reform.
And please, share with your colleagues, friends and family as well as organizations you belong to and encourage them to sign as well.
Thank you so much for your help.
Save the Gardens and Stop Eminent Domain Abuse in New Jersey
Dear Members of the New Jersey Legislature,
We, the undersigned, oppose the threat or use of eminent domain for private development in Mount Holly and across New Jersey. We ask that the legislature intervene immediately through eminent domain reform that will prohibit the township of Mount Holly and municipalities across New Jersey from seizing homes and businesses in order to transfer them to private developers.
The Township of Mount Holly is destroying the Gardens, a close-knit community of row houses that up until recently was home to over 300 families. Since 2003, the township has bought out over 200 homes under the threat of eminent domain, and if the remaining owners don’t sell soon, they will be condemned against their will through eminent domain. The town claims they want everyone out by the holidays, so they can give the land to Keating Urban Partners, who will build hundreds of higher-priced town houses, apartments and a business center.
Most of the homeowners are elderly and African American or Hispanic. Nearly all have lived in the Gardens for over thirty years. They are first-time home buyers. They are best friends, have deep connections with the community and rely on each other on a daily basis.
The abuse of eminent domain in Mount Holly is emblematic of the serious shortcoming in New Jersey’s eminent domain law. Eminent domain has been threatened or used for private development in at least 123 municipalities across the Garden State over the past decade.
Eminent domain is for public use, things like roads and schools—not to condemn and uproot entire communities for purely private profit. In the wake of Kelo v. City of New London, the universally-reviled U.S. Supreme Court decision that permits the use of eminent domain for projects that merely promise increased tax revenue or jobs, 43 state legislatures nationwide have passed reforms restricting their ability to use eminent domain for private development. New Jersey has yet to act and her residents remain vulnerable to the threat of eminent domain for private development, as demonstrated by the thousands of residents across the state who have been or continue to be on the chopping block.
We ask that the legislature intervene immediately to ensure the Gardens homeowners get to keep what they have worked so hard to own. We ask that the legislature act swiftly to pass eminent domain reform that will ensure no other Garden State property owners meet the same fate as so many before who have been kicked out of house and home simply for someone wealthier and more politically-connected through the outrageous abuse of eminent domain.
The legislature should enact reform immediately that prohibits the use of eminent domain to transfer private property to private parties and redefines “blight” to mean individual properties that pose immediate threats to public health and safety.
Thank you in advance for your attention to our concerns.