Long Branch Property Owners Suffer Setback
As reported today in the Asbury Park Press, four property owners in Long Branch’s infamous MTOTSA (Marine Terrace, Ocean Terrace, and Seaview Avenue) redevelopment area lost their most recent battle with the governing body.
Two years ago, after the Appellate Division reversed a trial court decision that authorized the use of eminent domain to acquire private property within the MTOTSA neighborhood, all but 4 of the property owners settled their cases against the town. The deal allowed them to remain in their homes and the town would reimburse attorneys’ fees and costs.
The four property owners who refused to sign the deal wanted money damages from the town for an alleged “temporary taking” in addition to keeping their homes and getting reimbursed attorney fees. The gist of the claim was that during the period after the trial court authorized the taking in 2005 until the Appellate Division reversed in 2009, there was a temporary taking for which monetary compensation was required to be paid.
The property owners argued that when Long Branch filed its complaint and the trial court authorized the taking, there was a “constitutional taking” requiring payment of compensation regardless of the fact that the government never took title or physically invaded the properties.
The trial court disagreed, finding that there was no temporary taking because the property owners failed to prove that all or substantially all of the economically beneficial use of the subject properties was taken by some government action. The property owners continued to live in their homes during the alleged temporary taking period, a fact normally fatal to an inverse condemnation claim.
The property owners have vowed an appeal, and we will keep you posted.
A couple of our prior reports on redevelopment in Long Branch may be found here: