TRENTON – In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s narrow ruling last week which expands the scope of eminent domain, a bipartisan bill sponsorsed by Senators Nia H. Gill and Diane Allen was introduced to protect New Jersey residents from being ousted from their homes under the controversial condemnation proceedings.
“Taking private property from one private owner and transferring it to another seriously jeopardizes the security of all private property ownership,” said Senator Gill, D-Essex and Passaic. “Being able to own property is part of the American Dream that is undeniably desired by everyone. It is a dream which must be protected.”
“We must take action that provides the necessary protections to ensure that the ownership of private property is not relegated to the whims of a powerful few,” said Senator Allen, R-Burlington and Camden.
Senator Gill said the bill, S-2739, is needed to address the serious concerns raised in the dissenting opinion of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who noted that the fallout from the 5-4 ruling would not be “random” and that, now, any property may be taken for the benefit of another private party.
“As Justice O’Connor put it so succinctly, ‘The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms,'” Senator Gill noted.
The Gill-Allen measure would exempt from condemnation legally occupied residential property which is maintained in accordance with applicable housing codes and standards.
“Our legislation will make the application process for condemnation more transparent through a requirement for a declaration of public purpose, a notice to property owners who would be affected, and the opportunity for all to be heard at a public hearing,” Senator Allen said.