River Styx hearing: September 6th is the date!
All those interested in attending the River Styx redevelopment hearing please note that it has been rescheduled to Tuesday, September 6th, at 7:30pm. The new venue is the Hopatcong High School auditorium. The original hearing, held on July 19th, was cancelled due to over-crowding.
The issue on the table will be whether or not Hopatcong is granted the use of eminent domain in redevelopment issues concerning 30 plus acres bordered by River Styx Road and Durban Road, from Lakeside Boulevard to Deane Road. Wikipedia defines eminent domain as: "The power of a state or the federal government to take private property for public use while requiring 'just' compensation to be given to the original owner. It can be legislatively delegated by the state to municipalities, government subdivisions, or even to private persons or corporations, when they are authorized to exercise the functions of public character."
Citizen-activist Harvey Roseff has expressed concerns about giving government so much power over the property and lives of residents. He notes that while it may be a "tool kit" for government, it represents a loss of "personal rights" and freedom.
Wikipedia notes that through the use of eminent domain "property may be taken either for government use or by delegation to third parties, who will devote it to public or civic use or, in some cases, to economic development." The use of eminent domain was expanded by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 to go beyond its traditional needs for government buildings and other facilities, public utilities, highways and railroads, or for public safety.
"The Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005) affirmed the authority of New London, Connecticut, to take non-blighted private property by eminent domain, and then transfer it for a dollar a year to a private developer solely for the purpose of increasing municipal revenues. This 5-4 decision received heavy press coverage and inspired a public outcry criticizing eminent domain powers as too broad. In reaction to Kelo, several states enacted or are considering state legislation that would further define and restrict the power of eminent domain. The Supreme Courts of Illinois, Michigan (County of Wayne v. Hathcock ), Ohio (Norwood, Ohio v. Horney ), Oklahoma, and South Carolina have recently ruled to disallow such takings under their state constitutions.
The redevelopment in New London, the subject of the Kelo decision, proved to be a failure and as of ten years after the court's decision nothing has been built on the taken land in spite of the expenditure of over $100 million in public funds. The Pfizer corporation, which owned a $300 million research facility in the area, and would have been the primary beneficiary of the additional development, announced in 2009 that it would close its facility, and did so shortly before the expiration of its 10-year tax abatement agreement with the city. The facility was subsequently purchased in 2010 for just $55 million by General Dynamics Electric Boat."