Update on Aberdeen-Matawan Station Redevelopment

As we reported on January 4, 2012 (http://njcondemnationlaw.com/?s=aberdeen), the question of whether the Aberdeen-Matawan train station area was still “in need of redevelopment” was sent back to the local planning board.

The Planning Board held a meeting on February 15, at which it approved Coppola & Coppola Associates’ preliminary report that the 62.81 acres in the vicinity of the Aberdeen part of the station still qualified as an area in need of redevelopment.

Richard Coppola, township planner, said in a statement to the Independent that “There have been changes to the governing statute, which is the redevelopment law, and the governing body wanted to be certain that anything that was of record in the township for this redevelopment area was up to date and accurate.”

Local residents have expressed concern about the decision. They’re concerned that an increase in traffic in the area could be a hazard to children in the neighborhood, which currently has a very quiet dead-end street. They’re also concerned that the township will apply provisions of the redevelopment law that allow it to use eminent domain to condemn properties and take them over against the wishes of the property owners within the designated area.

It doesn’t appear that condemnation of properties is as yet an imminent danger: in the same article in the Independent, Coppola said that there are several more steps that need to be followed first. The next step would be for the Planning Board to put together an ordinance that includes the redevelopment plan. Only after there is an approved redevelopment plan, could a redeveloper be designated and could the use of eminent domain possibly be authorized.

In the meantime, local residents will be closely monitoring the progress in Congress of the Private Property Rights Protection Act (H.R. 1443), also known as the “Anti-Kelo Eminent Domain Bill.”

In 2005 the US Supreme Court ruled, in City of New London v. Kelo, that the government can use its powers of eminent domain to support economic development. The public outcry against the bill has spurred several attempts at legislation to restrict the ability of state and local governments to condemn property for redevelopment. The present federal bill would deny all federal development funding for two years to state or local governments if they use eminent domain for redevelopment purposes where economic development is the stated public purpose for any takings. See http://njcondemnationlaw.com/2012/03/01/house-passes-anti-kelo-eminent-domain-bill/ for more details on the bill.