Civil Liberties

Show Us the Blight


Today a New Jersey appeals court overturned a ruling that allowed the city of Long Branch to proceed with its plan to condemn a seaside neighborhood and replace it with luxury condominiums. The appeals court found that the city had failed to support its claim that the neighborhood was "blighted," as required by state law and the state constitution. Scott Bullock of the Institute for Justice, which represents many of the neighborhood's homeowners, says this looks like the end of the project:

The Court basically told the city that if that's all it has, it can't take these homes. It's too late for the city to manufacture more evidence, so the Court's ruling is a fatal blow to the city. We are confident the owners will prevail on remand.

The appeals court ruling was based on a 2007 decision (PDF) in which the New Jersey Supreme Court said a municipality cannot arbitrarily label property "blighted" simply because it has in mind what it considers a better use for the land. I noted the Long Beach case a couple of years ago, when I.J. first became involved. Click through to see examples of the allegedly blighted homes.