Eminent Domain is an important tool that helps and gives power to the federal government and local governments take land away from private citizens, with just compensation, for the greater good of the public. But the question I pose is will the government utilize the said land for the improvement and betterment of the public at large or are they simply being used by private developers to make it easier for them to acquire land from private owners who under normal circumstances would not part with the piece of land.
The picture above shows Mr. Charlie Birnbaum standing on the roof of his property in Atlantic City.
A case that I found interesting in New Jersey involving eminent domain, happened in Atlantic City on May 2014 concerning a resident, Mr. Charlie Birnbaum who owns property near the Revel Casino. The property in question is a three story house in oriental Avenue that has been owned by his family for the past forty years. The New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) wants the property for redevelopment. The owner did not want to part with the property and the case went to court. The owner’s argument is that he did not get a good reason as to why they wanted his property for redevelopment. The New Jersey CRDA stated through their attorney that they do not have to provide exact details on what they plan use the property for in the future.
It appears that CRDA is abusing eminent domain to take away land from a private owner under pretext of redevelopment that does not appear to benefit residents of Atlantic City or the public. The constitution protects citizens from such misuse of power in the 5th and 14th amendment, where by the courts end up determining the outcome of disputes involving eminent domain. The local governments should not allow developers who want to take away property from private owners using eminent domain if there is no benefit or positive change to the public. Personally I think the case should be ruled in favor of Mr. Charlie Birnbaum allowing him to keep his property and do whatever he wants with it. Currently some Casinos in Atlantic City have shut down while others are struggling, eminent domain does not seem to be working in matters of public interest because of the loss of taxes paid by the casinos and jobs.