Rice Will Answer Eminent Domain Questions By Drafting Comprehensive And Fair Legislation

TRENTON – Senator Ronald L. Rice today said that New Jersey will soon have a “fair solution” to the problem of eminent domain abuse through a legislative measure he is drafting and introducing shortly.

Senator Rice noted that eminent domain is the government’s right to acquire private property for public use by condemning it, and paying the owner fair compensation.

“Eminent domain is one of the most controversial developmental tools used by municipalities because current State law allows too many loopholes for abuse,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex, and Chairman of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. “Eminent domain is a necessary evil because, without it, cities like Newark could not be redeveloped. The bill I am working on will close loopholes, provide safeguards against the arbitrary taking of homes and property, and provide fair compensation to owners.”

Senator Rice stated that he has been working with an extensive group of people with various areas of expertise to come up with a comprehensive and fair bill that both addresses the public’s concerns of abuse and the municipalities’ legitimate need for redevelopment.

According to Senator Rice, representatives from the State Division of Community Affairs, the League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Apartment Association, the Housing and Community Development Network, the Realtors Association and others “have all come to the table in good faith to try and reach a compromise on the use of eminent domain and create a powerful piece of legislation.” Senator Rice said that he is encouraged by the progress.

“While working out the details of an eminent domain bill, I want to make sure that concerns of our State’s residents are not paved over,” said Senator Rice. “Eminent domain can be a useful tool but only with the assurances that the government is using it fairly and paying property owners just compensation. Unless the public is given proper notice and knows why eminent domain is justified in a given case, it should not be used.”

Senator Rice said he would like to work the out final details of his proposal during committee hearings next month or in early June.