Fairview joins eminent domain battle

by: Anthony F. Della Pelle
15 Dec 2008
Cliffside Park-Fairview eminent domain battle
Monday, December 15, 2008

“WHAT’S NEW: Fairview formally joined a borough businesswoman in her lawsuit against Cliffside Park. Bridget Tapkas, co-owner of a Broad Avenue car dealership in Fairview, said that Fairview’s support will provide her with more leverage against Cliffside Park, which is trying to condemn property that she owns in Fairview.

“I don’t think it changes our position,” Tapkas said. “It changes the case.”

Carmine Alampi, Fairview’s Planning Board attorney, described Cliffside Park’s move to take property from inside Fairview as “alarming.”

“It’s just not in our interest,” he said. “We’re going to vigorously oppose it.”

In a failed motion to stop Fairview from joining the lawsuit, Cliffside Park Attorney Christos Diktas wrote that “the Local Land and Buildings Law expressly grants to a municipality the power and authority to acquire any real property located ‘either within or without the municipality.'”

BACKGROUND: Tapkas and her family have been leasing their property to Cliffside Park to use as a truck storage facility since August 2007. More than a year after signing the lease, the borough offered to buy the land, but Tapkas declined. Then, in November, she received a notice that the borough had initiated eminent domain proceedings on her land.

That move stems from delays on another project in Fairview. Since 2003, Cliffside Park and Fairview have been trying to convert a 1.6-acre parcel into a shared public works facility. Under an agreement with Fairview, Cliffside Park was solely responsible for condemning the land. Funding for the project was to come through the two municipalities and the Bergen County Improvement Authority.

Alampi said Fairview agreed to the project because, under the initial plan, Bergen County agreed to fund construction of flood prevention mechanisms there. However, that part of the deal appears to be in jeopardy, according to Alampi.

WHAT’S NEXT: Oral arguments are expected to be heard in state Superior Court in January.

— Michael Gartland”


McKirdy & Riskin’s Anthony Della Pelle, www.mrod.law, serves as special condemnation counsel to the property owner, Bridget Tapkas and her family, in this dispute.  The court will be scheduling a hearing in January to determine whether Cliffside Park has abused its eminent domain powers in attempting to take property outside of its municipal boundaries.