From the Philly Inquirer:
In the most densely populated state, eminent domain backlash began even before the U.S. Supreme Court turned it into a national issue.
To many New Jersey towns that craved tax revenue but had precious little vacant land to build on, the power to take private property and redevelop it is appealing.
But this sparked the fury of property owners from Camden to the Shore and gained the state a reputation among activist groups as one of the worst abusers.
Now New Jersey is reexamining its eminent domain and redevelopment laws. The Assembly is holding hearings where land-use wonks and angry citizens have offered thoughts, and legislators are pushing bills that call for moratoriums and limits.
At the very least, lawmakers seem to be moving toward tightening the criteria to take property and increasing the amount of compensation owners receive.
Opponents of eminent domain wonder how much change will get past a Legislature packed with members who have ties to developers or hold a second public office in which the power could be useful.
“What’s unique about New Jersey is the real cozy relationships between developers and lawmakers, and so many lawmakers are mayors and councilmen and don’t want to give up this authority,” said Thom Ammirato, a GOP consultant who works frequently on eminent-domain issues.
Proponents of change have a powerful ally in Gov. Corzine, who opposes most uses of eminent domain for economic development.
And from The Real Estate Bloggers Blog:
As New Jersey and other states around the country discuss in their legislatures how to best address eminent domain, the legislatures must make a decision. Are the rights of the homeowner or property owner more important to them than the opportunities for development and growth of their tax base? For a politician this is a tough question. For a New Jersey politician this is a VERY tough question.
But the problem is that the property rights of the one person are abused. They trusted our system to protect them. And everyone in the community has the sinking feeling that they may be next, because the government always continues behavior that brings in money. Have you ever seen a tax taken off of the books? So the people in the community have a sick feeling in their stomach as they know something is very wrong.
And they are right. Private property is one of the factors that made this country great. We need to have the total trust that the government can not come and just take our property at their desecration. If someone wants to buy it bad enough, make them pay a price that is high enough to entice me to sell. Do not pay that difference to the politician to make him do you bidding with the force and power of the government.