Eminent domain can affect you, too

Eminent domain can affect you, too 
03/13/2006 Hoboken Reporter

Dear Editor:
Thank you for highlighting Hoboken's current eminent domain issue on the front page of last week's Reporter. While many homeowners (houses or condominium) may think that the issue of eminent domain does not affect them I am writing to say it does.

You may think your home is safe from eminent domain, but is it? Unless you live in a six-story building (five stories apts/condos over one story garage) with full or nearly full lot coverage, your home could be put in a redevelopment zone. According to Tom Jennemann's article (3/5/06), "Redevelopment, according to state law is a zoning term that means there is an area within the municipality that is not being used to its full potential." Your neighborhood is not zoned for five over one, not to worry.

"Redevelopment also means the governing body can pool a large area of property together...and then zone the property as they wish." Consider how many condominiums a developer could fit on your property if he knocked down your building and all of the other buildings on your block. Just think of all of the additional ratables the City would have then.

Wouldn't that actually be your properties' full potential? Harold Kwitman who owns one of the properties under debate said, "I own the property outright and I can't even develop it myself. I can only sell it to one person...The government and real estate developers are in a close relationship, and unfortunately that is the way it is." The icing on the cake, as Kwitman is finding out, is if you don't want to sell or sell at the price the City designated developer wants to pay, the City Council could vote to use eminent domain to acquire or condemn your property.

If the City Council votes to use eminent domain to take this land from its owners, to make way for a residential condo developer, who is to say the land your building is on is not next. Please attend this week's City Council meeting, Wednesday, March 15 and voice your opinion on this very important issue. (Arrive prior to 7 p.m. and sign up to speak on both of these ordinances.)

Carolyn Hickman

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