Eminent domain is, at its essence, the power of a governmental entity to take private real estate for public use, with or without the permission of its owner. The right is most often exercised as a last resort, when all other avenues of negotiations have failed, to acquire land for the construction of highways, Post Offices, hospitals, or the like. The concept of eminent domain was born in British common law, and was adopted by the Thirteen Colonies before the Revolutionary War. Upon the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, eminent domain was limited by the Fifth Amendment, which states nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.' This is a tacit recognition of a preexisting power to take private property for public use, rather than a grant of new power.2 Indeed, the Supreme Court found that eminent domain appertains to every independent government. It requires no constitutional recognition; it is an attribute of sovereignty.3 Thus American states, cities, school districts, and other governmental and quasi-governmental entities are afforded the rights and privileges of eminent domain.
[...] To the dismay of private land owners across the country, the high court ruled in the town's favor, drastically expanding the standard by which eminent domain could be applied by states, cities, and towns across the country.7 The residents and governmental officials of Long Branch, New Jersey found themselves in the middle of this heated political climate as they waged their own legal battle over eminent domain. As the shore town's Mayor sought to reclaim a piece of the city's glory days as the respite of choice for rich and famous, residents were horrified at the prospect of losing their homes after years of residency. [...]
[...] Jones, D. “Eminent Domain: A Constitutional Threat.” ProggressiveU.org.
[...] Indeed, all of New Jersey is recognized as being at threat of eminent domain abuses: the State Legislature's lack of resolve in passing laws to restrict or limit its use by municipal governments, combined with New Jersey's unique geography, make it very susceptible. About the state's geography: a study showed that the most likely victims of eminent domain abuse were those cities geographically close to a major urban/commercial center and those that bordered a waterfront.47 Considering New Jersey is essentially two giant suburbs, one of New York and the other of Philadelphia, and given the state's extensive coastline and numerous major rivers, it is no wonder that it has been singled out as being at such high risk to abusive practices. [...]
[...] Residents' median income was $38,651 by 2000, nearly 40% below the average for the state as a whole; the poverty level in 1999 was just under twice as high as the state average.20 By 1990 the city's population had dropped 10% from its high 20 years earlier,21 crime was on the rise, and so was drug use.22 Political Process Back to the unfolding story, the redevelopment plan was based on the basic idea to take 135.5 acres of land along the ocean and turn it into a mixed- use, urban renewal utopia, complete with bike paths and walkways and condominiums and high-value commercial zones.23 All of these new zones would develop Long Branch's depressed tax base, hopefully revitalizing the city's center and in turn spawning a revitalization of the city as a whole. [...]
[...] Inputs Schneider had long been a proponent of redevelopment, winning his reelection in large part due to his promises to revitalize Long Branch, and in that same year the political and economic planets began to align. Monmouth County's beaches, diminished from years of natural and man-induced erosion, were about to get a facelift, courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers. A group of some 40 local businessmen headed by Robert Furlong, who owned a number of local clothing businesses, had just established a private redevelopment arm, Long Branch Tomorrow, to help promote the process.15 Furlong's group raised $165,000, and used the money to hire the Boston urban design firm of Thompson and Wood. [...]
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