I Have a Gripe

February 27, 2010

Asbury Park and Eminent Domain

Filed under: Economy,government,Laws,New Jersey — alvb1227 @ 3:58 pm

Awhile back I saw a documentary about senior citizens being kicked out of their homes in Asbury Park under eminent domain. As I watched the story of Angie, a woman who has lived in Asbury Park for decades, my heart broke. As one neighbor’s home after another are bulldozed around Angie’s home, she continued to fight.

Asbury Park Tillie

Another Asbury Park landmark, Tillie, from the Palace Amusements building in Asbury Park.

I often think about Angie and her neighbors and the constitutionality of eminent domain. In the early 1990’s, there was another redevelopment plan in Asbury Park, but the developer filed bankruptcy and the unfinished Ocean One condo complex stands as a reminder of the past failures of this once great seaside resort.

While I can appreciate the ongoing efforts to restore Asbury Park, I have to question the constitutionality of this controversial law that gives the government the right to size private property as long as “fair compensation” is paid. I wonder if the government thinks this would be an easy kill because approximately 30 percent of the residents live below the poverty line and more than likely cannot afford to hire attorneys to go up against the millions available to the developers.

And what would happen to the fabled Stone Pony where Jersey resident Bruce Springsteen went from local musician to to legend.  From what I have read, there has been an offer to relocate the club, but in my opinion, it just wouldn’t be the same.

I don’t know what has become of Angie’s fight, but I hope she and her neighbors continue to work to keep their homes.


  1. Private property rights is one of the most fundamental rights in the US – easily as important as free speech. Without personal private property rights, a country’s economy simply cannot grow and true freedom is not possible. Economic freedom is often ignored (or unknown) by most people but it is clearly just as important as politic freedom.

    Comment by Charles — February 27, 2010 @ 9:53 pm | Reply

  2. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was prescient in her Kelo dissent when she wrote that “the fallout from this decision will not be random . . . the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more.”

    What property owners are seeing in New Jersey and elsewhere is that the notion of “public good” is corrupted in today’s interpretation of eminent domain; plus the fact that there is a lot of play in the “just” of just compensation.

    New York and Pennsylvania, among other states, will see more eminent domain “takings” thanks to the rising interest in natural gas drilling in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale. With more drilling comes more pipelines and more underground gas storage fields — and that (pipelines & storage fields) always means eminent domain.

    The excellent Institute for Justice (of Kelo fame) declines to intervene in energy/utility “takings” because, they told me, of the “public good” premise.

    But property owners can fight back. Our two-year battle against Houston-based Spectra Energy which seized our property rights for an underground gas storage field led to the development of a website which has begun to attract whistle blowers inside the energy industry. We are collaborating and helping property owners in many states. For info, visit the site:
    Spectra Energy

    By the way, our new neighbor, Spectra Energy, has received two Notice of Violations for “unlawful conduct” related to emergency shutdowns and emissions at its storage field in Bedford County, PA. Reports of contaminated water supplies are on the rise since they began operations.

    The ripple effects of eminent domain are never over.

    Comment by MikeB — February 28, 2010 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

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