The NJ state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority is attempting to seize private property once again. They are attempting to use eminent domain to seize the home of Charles Birnbaum in Atlantic City. Mr. Birnbaum’s parents purchased this home in 1969. Mr. Birnbaum uses the home as a base for his piano-tuning business and rents the apartment in the house. The Declaration of Taking filed in February by the CRDA presents Mr. Birnbaum with a sum of $238,500 for the taking of his property. Zillow estimates the house worth to be $381,161.
The filing indicates that the property is being condemned, yet the property is in excellent condition.
The CRDA announced plans for a “South Inlet Mixed Use Development Project” in 2012 to meet demands created by the newly opened Revel Casino. Mr. Birnbaum’s house sits in the way of this project. The Revel has run into financial difficulty and is closing on Monday yet the CRDA has not expressed any interest in backing down.
Fighting the eminent domain order is the libertarian law firm, Institute for Justice.
Back in 1994 the CRDA attempted to seize the home of widow, Vera Coke, to build a parking lot for Donald Trump for his new Trump Plaza. (Trump Plaza will be closing down next month.) The Institute for Justice fought this case and successfully saved Vera Coke’s home from the CRDA.
The 2005 Kelo v. City of New London decision led to a backlash against states seizing private property to transfer to private interests. Many states passed laws that attempted to reform eminent domain abuse. Last year New Jersey passed a bill that purported to limit eminent domain abuse, however large exceptions in the law have made it ineffective. This law creates a method of seizing property that is not blighted at all. It allows municipalities to designate “Non-Condemnation Redevelopment Areas” so that the properties can be taken for public or private use.
New Jersey needs real eminent domain reform. No one should suffer having their private property taken from them for the benefit of politically connected private interests.