Sunday, August 05, 2007

Newark - Ledger - Rethinking redevelopment after Paulsoro ruling

Published in the Star-Ledger, Friday, June 15, 2007

Newark rethinking redevelopment plans
Eminent domain ruling forces a new look

Star-Ledger Staff

A state Supreme Court ruling this week has forced Newark to re-examine its plans to redevelop 182 acres of industrial property near the harbor and airport.

The court ruling limits the way that local governments may use eminent domain to acquire land for redevelopment, making it much tougher for them to take property simply because they say it's not being used to its fullest.

That is precisely the criterion on which Newark based its argument for acquiring many of the properties in its seaport and airport redevelopment plan.

"We're going to have to go back and review the parcels that may be affected by this ruling," said Lupe Todd, a city spokeswoman. "We intend to continue to pursue the redevelopment of all parcels that meet the law."

Some property owners who were resisting the city's redevelopment plan see the Supreme Court ruling as a reprieve.

"It's very clear the city is going to have to go back to the drawing board on this," said Kevin O'Connor, an attorney for a dry ice distribution center on Frelinghuysen Avenue.

Frank Giantomasi, another attorney for businesses affected by the redevelopment program, said the ruling won't prohibit the city from using eminent domain to take properties, but he said it will impose "a more objective test."

"In certain cases, I think this is going to stop the city from redeveloping, in others it won't have any impact," Giantomasi said.

Most of the 182 acres in the plan are along Frelinghuysen and Doremus avenues. In some cases, the land is occupied by decaying, abandoned buildings. In others, businesses continue to operate on the property.

The city's planning board is holding a hearing on the redevelopment plan next Thursday. That meeting will go on as scheduled, Todd said. In the meantime, city officials have been meeting with the property owners since June 7, when a previous hearing on the issue was cut short.

"The city is taking a real let's-work-together attitude," Giantomasi said. "They're trying to achieve a middle ground."

In conducting its review of the court ruling, the city may opt to cut some of the properties from the redevelopment program. Or officials may simply use different criteria to make their case for taking the land.

The targeted properties include:
  • 13.9 acres on the east side of Frelinghuysen Avenue, between McClellan Street and the Elizabeth border.
  • 11 acres on the east side of Frelinghuysen Avenue just south of Route 22.
  • 36.5 acres around Olympia Drive, near New Jersey Turnpike Interchange 14.
  • 34.7 acres between Doremus Avenue and the Passaic River, just south of Routes 1&9.
  • 27.2 acres on Doremus Avenue, just north of Delancey Street.
  • 58.6 acres on Doremus Avenue, just south of Delancey Street.

Joe Malinconico may be reached at or (973) 392-4230.

Link to online story.

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Plainfield resident since 1983. Retired as the city's Public Information Officer in 2006; prior to that Community Programs Coordinator for the Plainfield Public Library. Founding member and past president of: Faith, Bricks & Mortar; Residents Supporting Victorian Plainfield; and PCO (the outreach nonprofit of Grace Episcopal Church). Supporter of the Library, Symphony and Historic Society as well as other community groups, and active in Democratic politics.