Monday, September 16, 2013
John Ross of Reason magazine details how New Jersey's post-Kelo reforms actually make eminent domain abuse more likely:
The law purports to do two things: first, codify a 2007 New Jersey Supreme Court ruling favorable to property owners and, second, decouple eminent domain from redevelopment subsidies. It fails miserably at both.
When local officials declare that an area is blighted and “in need of redevelopment,” the designation both allows them to offer economic development incentives and authorizes the use of eminent domain. But sometimes officials honestly don’t want to seize anyone’s property; they just want the ability to offer subsidies to developers.
But officials cannot credibly promise not to condemn property once it has been declared blighted. Officials can change their minds. And the next city council isn’t bound by past promises. Every redevelopment area is thus under constant threat of eminent domain—intended or not.
Decoupling the incentives from condemnation would remove the threat. And the law appears to do just that, allowing for the creation of “non-condemnation redevelopment areas.” But the law lets officials transform a non-condemnation area into a condemnation area if property owners refuse to sell.Steve Clowney