September 16th, 2009 — By — In News & Events
Victory for Long Branch Homeowners
The Institute for Justice announced this week that IJ lawyers had reached an agreement with Long Branch attorneys settling the eminent domain actions filed almost five years ago against a group of homeowners whose properties lie along Marine Terrace, Ocean Terrace and Seaview Avenue (MTOTSA) in Long Branch.
“Today’s [9/15/09] agreement finally ends this government-created nightmare that was imposed upon these Long Branch homeowners,” said Scott Bullock, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice which, along with noted New Jersey eminent domain lawyers Peter H. Wegener and William Ward, represented the homeowners. “With this agreement, the neighborhood can be restored to the kind of wonderful community it was before the city and the developer targeted it. These modest, proudly-maintained homes will no longer be threatened by the bulldozers.”
IJ’s press release describes the terms of the agreement, which includes dismissal of the eminent domain suits, tax abatements for homeowners reinvesting in their properties (the tax abatements were originally offered to the city-designated developer who would have benefited from the opportunity to build new high-end condos on the homeowners’ properties), and partial payment of the owners’ attorneys’ fees. Perhaps most importantly, the settlement bars Long Branch from taking the homes in the MTOTSA neighborhood under the current or any future redevelopment plan. Additionally and equally important, the settlement obligates the city and the developer to improve conditions in the neighborhood, including repaving and repairing the streets and repairing street lights. The developer must also remedy the damage caused to the neighborhood after it acquired some homes through eminent domain. These homes have remained abandoned and boarded-up, which poses safety and crime risks and an overall decline to the neighborhood.
“At long last, we can get our homes, lives and neighborhood back,” said Lori Vendetti, who owns one of the homes across the street from the house her parents bought more than 40 years ago—a home where her mother still resides. “I am so glad my father and the other seniors in the neighborhood were able to live out their days in their homes, but I wish they could have been here to see this wonderful conclusion.”
For additional details about this lengthy eminent domain battle and the the settlement see the Institute for Justice website here, Rudi Larini’s article at NJ.com here and David Porter’s Associated Press article here.