CRDA Denied Authority to Take – Birnbaum Wins on Reconsideration

by: Joseph Grather
10 Aug 2016

On August 5, 2016, Judge Mendez reversed himself issuing an Order holding that the Casino Reinvestment Development Corp.’s condemnation of the Birnbaum property was a “manifest abuse of the eminent domain power” and exceeded CRDA’s statutory authority.  Thereby dismissing the case commenced over two years ago.

Initially the Court denied the Birnbaum’s challenge to the taking (see New York Times article here), but the property owners’ filed a motion for reconsideration arguing that due to Atlantic City’s “unprecedented financial crisis” the project for which the property was allegedly required may not be implemented.  The Court granted the motion and placed the burden on CRDA to provide “reasonable assurances that the project would be implemented.”  An evidentiary hearing was held in April of 2016.  CRDA failed to sustain its burden.  The trial court was not persuaded with its argument that its statutory role of “land aggregator” permitted it to bank the Birnbaum’s land based solely on the “idea” of a proposed mixed-use redevelopment project.  An “idea” that the court found was not “likely to occur in the foreseeable future.”

CRDA has the right to appeal, but that would not seem like a wise use of limited financial resources.