In The News
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Developer Agrees To Pay Family In Eminent Domain Case $21M, Jersey Journal , July 19, 2012. By Terrence McDonald
“The city paid the family $1.2 million for the waterfront property. But a jury in 2008 determined the actual fair market value to be $18 million, which with interest has risen to $21 million.
“The Kerrigans, seeking payment of the four-year-old judgment, sued Mocco, the JCRA and the city last year…. Bill Ward, the Kerrigans’ Florham Park attorney, said the family views the settlement as the best prospect for the $21 million judgment to be fulfilled.” Link to the complete article online.
Long Branch Homeowners Win Eminent Domain Fight, NJ Biz, September 21, 2009. By Shankar P.
A group of 13 residential property owners, in Long Branch, won a six-year court battle to keep their homes from being condemned by the city administration, reaching a settlement with the city early last week….The settlement “is evident of a trend going on in New Jersey, where municipalities have to prove blight by substantial credible evidence,” said William J. Ward, a principal at Carlin, Ward, Ash & Heiart LLC, who represented the property owners, along with two other firms.
For related stories and links see the New Jersey Eminent Domain Law Blog.
New Cases On Top Court’s Docket Test Privilege, Deposition Boundaries, New Jersey Law Journal, August 31, 2009. By Henry Gottlieb
“… Iron Mountain Information Management v. Newark, A-100-08, raises this question: When property is taken under the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law, is a commercial tenant with an option to purchase and right of first refusal in its lease agreement entitled to the same notice as the property owner?
The appellant is a tenant in a vast warehouse in a downtown section of Newark that the city designated as a blighted area as a first step toward redevelopment. The tenant had a right to fight the blight designation but missed the deadline for doing so and claimed the failure was caused by a lack of notice.
But the appeals court ruled the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law doesn’t require towns to give notice of blight designation to commercial tenants, even to ones like the plaintiff that have an option to purchase the property.
Appellant lawyer William Ward of Carlin, Ward, Ash & Heiart LLC in Florham Park, N.J., says it’s true the tenant still retains the right to object when the property is condemned. But to make a tenant wait until then without giving adequate notice of the blight designation “unreasonably places that tenant under a cloud of condemnation, and leaves it at risk of losing its interest in the property without having had a fair opportunity to contest the basis for the taking,” Ward says in his petition for certification.
Seminar Explores Eminent Domain, The Home News Tribune, April 18, 2007.
Tuesday’s seminar, sponsored by Lorman Education Services, touched on many aspects of eminent domain. It was moderated by William J. Ward, of Carlin, Ward, Ash & Heiart LLC law firm in Florham Park, who invited distinguished panelists including state Sens. Ron Rice, D-Essex, and Ellen Karcher, D-Monmouth, Mercer. Among presentation topics were: case-law changes, environmental issues, relocation assistance, pay-to-play and redevelopment ethics and legislative reform.
“The public, post-Kelo, is now very much aware of eminent domain,” said Ward. “The public is not in favor of taking private property to give it to a private developer. That’s pretty clear from polling that’s been done. The legislators, if they’re going to listen to their constituents, have to do something about it.” – By Gene Racz, Staff Writer
Fuzzy Math: Eminent Domain Property Acquisition For The Newark Arena Pushes Out Small Business Owner, The Star-Ledger, March 20, 2007. (Business Section)
For the past 22 years, Aguayo’s company, Multicolor, has been manufacturing pom poms of various colors and sizes from his shop on Liberty Street in Newark…..But Aguayo has become a casualty of eminent domain and development plans surrounding the Prudential Center arena, which is under construction. He is packing up his pom pom operation with plans to leave the state’s largest city for Pennsylvania, where he said it is cheaper to do business, and a lot more welcoming …
Aguayo, who has an engineering and machinist background, said he wanted to stay in Newark, but the eminent domain process hurts hardworking people like himself. “I built my business with my sweat,” he said. “I stayed here when nobody wanted to come here.”
His attorney, William Ward, said the housing authority offered him $1.1 million for his business, then increased the offer to $1.5 when Aguayo’s machinery was included. Ward appealed the offer and a commissioners’ panel recommended he receive $2.1 million. Aguayo said he thinks it’s still too low, but he agreed with the commissioners’ settlement. The housing authority, however, hasn’t said anything to Aguayo or his attorney.
“Who’s making the decisions?” Ward said. “They want him out of the property, but nobody can give us any answers. Jorge is frustrated.” – By Barry Carter, Star-Ledger Staff
Owner Contests Value Set For Beachfront Home: Commissioners Put Value Of Home Below City’s Offer, Atlanticville, March 15, 2007.
Attorney William J. Ward filed an appeal in Superior Court last week stating that the value set by condemnation commissioners was far from what his client Frances DeLuca would accept for her Ocean Terrace home with an ocean view. “$750,000 is just not what we are looking for,” said Ward in an interview last week, adding that the amount is what he expected. “We figured the value would come up in that area and we are not willing to accept that amount,” he said. Ward said he is now looking to have the value of the home determined in a jury trial and is expecting arguments to begin sometime in July.
Condemnation commissioners appointed by a Superior Court judge determined the value of DeLuca’s property last month at approximately $25,000 less than a previous offer made by the city to acquire the home, according to city attorney Paul V. Fernicola, Red Bank….
“We had a meeting in October to negotiate a purchase price for the home,” Fernicola said in an interview Tuesday….
“When we negotiated, Mr. Fernicola made it very clear that he wanted to keep everything confidential and said he did not want to read about the meeting in the papers,” Ward said. “Now he is doing just that,” he said, adding, “He violated his own confidentiality agreement. I am not going to negotiate a figure in the papers.” – By Christine Varno, Staff Writer
Eminent Domain: Getting Noticed, New Jersey Lawyer InRe Magazine, February 26, 2007.
Municipal attorneys routinely oppose any prerogative writ action filed beyond the 45 days permitted in the Local Redevelopment Housing Law (LRHL) 40A:20-1 et seq. In order to challenge a municipal action, a property owner must file a prerogative writ suit within 45 days of the action of the municipality declaring the property to be within “an area in need of redevelopment.” – By William J. Ward, Esq. (PDF)
Brief Seeks Dismissal Of Condemnations, Attorneys argue city gave control to developers. Atlanticville, February 15, 2007
….”I would be astonished if the appellate court, at the very least, did not overturn the trial court decision and allow for discovery to permit evidence in a real hearing,” said Institute for Justice (IJ) Senior Attorney Scott Bullock in an interview last week. “I ultimately see the MTOTSA homeowners keeping their homes,” Bullock said, adding, “That is what N.J. redevelopment law requires,” Bullock said.
Peter H. Wegener of Bathgate Wegener and Wolf, Lakewood, with IJ, Arlington, Va., as co-counsel, filed the opening brief in the appeal in the Appellate Division of state Superior Court on behalf of 18 property owners in the Beachfront North, Phase II redevelopment zone. The city is expected to file its response brief within 60 days. …
Attorney William J. Ward, Carlin & Ward, Florham Park, is representing Ocean Terrace residents Louis and Lillian Anzalone in the appeal. The opening brief in the Anzalone appeal was filed in January, according to Ward, who explained that his client is on a different briefing schedule than MTOTSA.
One reason Ward believes that MTOTSA is a couple of weeks behind his clients in the briefing process is due to the city’s attempt to block IJ from being admitted to the MTOTSA case “pro hac vice.” – By Christine Varno, Staff Writer
Passaic Erred In Seizing Property, Court Says, Herald News, February 15, 2007
He’s an average Joe who fought the law and won. When the city attempted to take away his property through eminent domain, Charles Shennett fought back. Now, the state’s appellate court has sided with him. The court said the city’s taking of Shennett’s property at 254 Summer St. was void, because Shennett did not receive notice of a May 2004 condemnation hearing….
According to court documents, after condemning Shennett’s land in May 2004, the city sold the property for $60,000 to Wayne Asset Management, LLC, of Kinnelon, a company owned by Wayne Alston, a former Passaic councilman. Alston put a two-story house on the vacant lot and sold it for $425,000 in October 2005 to Cerda Orlando, according to property records….
The decision voiding the condemnation forces the city to pay for Shennett’s legal costs under state statute, according to William Ward, an attorney with Carlin, Ward, Ash & Heiart LLC of Florham Park, who specializes in eminent domain cases….”Alston and parties that are occupying the house all presumably had title insurance policies; those title insurance polices come into play and they are going to sue,” said Ward. “That is going to be a real mess for the trial court to sort out.” – By Meredith Mandell
Businesses Want Designation Voided, Union Leader, February 7, 2007
About 20 property owners in Union Center have asked the Superior Court of New Jersey to nullify the township’s designation of Union Center as “an area in need of redevelopment.”
In two lawsuits filed Friday by the law firm of Carlin, Ward, Ash & Heiart LLC, the landlords also asked the court to restrain the township from condemning their properties and to award them compensatory damages, attorney fees and costs….
“The planning report on behalf of the township does not comport with the law regarding blight,” said William Ward, the plaintiff’s attorney. “These properties are not blight,” Ward said, pointing out that Union Center was in strong condition, with a lot of business and a high occupancy rate.
Ward said the property owners had gone to court because, the designation of the business district as an area in need of redevelopment allows the township the right to condemn any property for redevelopment.
“We want to take that right from them,” he said. – By Jerome Hule, Staff Writer
Lawsuit Seeks To Block Eminent Domain, The Star-Ledger, Union County, February 2, 2007
A coalition of property owners filed suit yesterday against Union Township to prevent officials from using eminent domain as part of a sweeping proposal to transform the township’s aging shopping district….
William Ward, a Florham Park attorney representing the 20 property owners, said the one and two-story brick buildings that predominate the area should not be condemned.
“These buildings are not blighted,” Ward said. “Blight is deserted, dilapidated, vacant, burnt out…you don’t have that in Union Center.”
Union Township officials insist they have no plans to seize properties….Nevertheless, property owners are nervous….
“I’m scared to death,” said [Frances] Metta, whose husband died in August. “I just became a widow, and now I find out that I may be subjected to eminent domain because some developer wants to build an anchor store and increase foot traffic? I can’t even tell you the stress.” – By Joe Ryan, Star-Ledger Staff
Long Branch Spurns Advocate’s Brief, The Asbury Park Press, Monmouth County, January 27, 2007
Like they did with the Institute for Justice some months ago, city officials are trying to get state Public Advocate Ronald K. Chen out of the oceanfront eminent domain controversy….[Lawrence H.]Shapiro is seeking to have Chen’s brief thrown out in the case of Louis and Lillian Anzalone of Ocean Terrace, who are represented by William J. Ward of Florham Park. Lawyer Scott G. Bullock of the Institute for Justice and Ward agree the motion to block is part of what Bullock describes as a pattern of obstructionist behavior by the city….
Ward, meanwhile, is seeking to bypass the appellate division, asking the state Supreme Court to directly hear the Anzalone case. Ward said the time is right because the state Supreme Court already has agreed to consider the case of Gallenthin Realty Development vs. the Borough of Paulsboro, which will decide aspects of the state’s Local Redevelopment and Housing Law, issues also at stake for MTOTSA. – By Carol Gorga Williams, Coastal Monmouth Bureau
Forest City Daly Out As Redeveloper, Officials Say, Local Source-Independent Press, Bloomfield, January 25, 2007
…The removal of Forest City Daly formally ends the redevelopment plan that has been in the works since 2003. The plan had come under fire from a core group of six property owners who had claimed they had not been notified – or in some cases, were intentionally misled – by the town that their properties would be seized by eminent domain. After a couple of small legal victories, Judge Patricia Costello ruled in the August 2005 first condemnation case Township of Bloomfield v. 110 Washington Associates that the town had not properly proven that the property to be taken was blighted….
Accordingly, the latest announcement has brought some calm to those who have been fighting the town for years. “This is good news for the property owners threatened by eminent domain,” said Bill Ward, the attorney for the holdout owners. “It will give the township a lot more flexibility about the plan to redevelop, and whether or not they need to condemn property to accomplish the plan.” – By Seth Augenstein, Staff Writer
Staying The Course Of Long Branch’s Eminent Domain Seizures, The Atlanticville, Long Branch, Editorial, December 20, 2006
If a stay is not issued by the trial court, a property owner must seek relief from the Appellate Division of the Superior Court. The standard for issuing a stay in the Appellate Division is difficult to meet and rarely given. The standard for injunctive relief was established by the New Jersey Supreme Court in Crowe v. DiGioia in 1982.
In order to meet the standards, the applicant must demonstrate: 1. That in the absence of such a stay, the claimant will suffer irreparable injury; 2. The legal right underlying the plaintiff’s claim is settled; 3. A reasonable probability of ultimate success on the merits; and 4. The probability of harm to other persons will not be greater than the harm the claimant will suffer in the absence of such relief… – By William J. Ward, Guest Columnist
Stay Granted In Long Branch Condemnation, The Hub, Red Bank, November 22, 2006
A state Appellate Court has ordered the city to hold off on using eminent domain to seize a beachfront home for a redevelopment project. An order granting a stay of the city’s pending condemnation action against Louis and Lillian Anzalone’s Ocean Terrace home was signed Nov. 16 by Appellate Judges Jack L. Lintner and Christine L. Miniman.
“This is a very good sign,” said the Anzalones’ attorney, William J. Ward Monday. “You do not get a stay granted very often,” said Ward, of Carlin, Ward, Ash & Heiart LLC, Florham Park. “They are not routinely granted.” – By Christine Varno, Staff Writer
Kelo Fallout: New Jersey Legislators And The State Public Advocate Launch Efforts To Reform The Use Of Takings For Private Development , The New Jersey Law Journal, May 29, 2006 [PDF]
…A bevy of bills have been introduced in the Legislature, some of which call for constitutional amendments to either limit or outright ban takings of property for redevelopment. And Public Advocate Ronald Chen, in a May 18 report to Gov. Jon Corzine, called for a comprehensive reform of the use of eminent domain for that purpose….
William Ward of Florham Park’s Carlin, Ward, Ash & Heiart LLC, who represents property owners, supports all of Chen’s report and says it will be useful to all three branches of government. “It lays open the house of cards our legislators have built, allowing developers free pickings in large portions of the state,” he says. – By Lisa Brennan
KO’ing Kelo, The New Jersey Lawyer, December 5, 2005 [PDF]
We’re witnessing the Kelo-Effect – a corollary to Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion which states, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The public, waking up to the possibility that homes and small businesses could be taken for private gain, is galvanized as never before against the abuse of eminent domain…More than any other contemporary issue, this one cuts across party lines and hits the mother lode: private property rights. Redevelopment attorneys are disingenuous when they express surprise at this reaction. There are, after all, more than 1,000 redevelopment projects in progress in 64 New Jersey towns. And the words of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in her Kelo dissent continue to resonate: “As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result.” – By William J. Ward
Evicted By City, Man To Have Day In Court, The Atlanticville, October 13, 2005
LONG BRANCH – A city resident whose home was taken for oceanfront redevelopment through eminent domain proceedings was scheduled to have his day in court Tuesday.
Bruce MacCloud owned a three-story, 17-room, 100-year-old Victorian home at 47 Cooper Ave., just 300 feet from the beach, according to his attorney, William J. Ward, of Carlin, Ward, Ash & Heiart LLC, Florham Park.McCloud’s home was located in the Beachfront North, phase I, redevelopment zone and on Nov. 6, 2002, he was physically evicted from the home he had owned for 23 years. – By Christine Varno, Staff Reporter
Not All Ripe For The Taking, The New Jersey Law Journal, August 8, 2005 [PDF]
A Superior Court judge voided Bloomfield’s attempted condemnation of commercial property, near a rail line to Manhattan, for which developers planned a condominium complex….Assignment Judge Patricia Costello found that the township’s designation of the site as “blighted” did not comport with the state Local Redevelopment Housing Law. “The record in this case is devoid of any finding that the property is detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare,” as the statute requires, Costello said…
Bloomfield had argued that the opponents should be barred from challenging the township’s underlying basis for condemnation because of earlier rulings in the case. Superior Court Judge Claude Coleman dismissed actions in lieu of prerogative writ brought by the same challengers and by four other Bloomfield property owners contesting blight designations, finding each time-barred. But Costello found that Coleman’s rulings never got into the property owners’ substantive claims.
The challengers’ lawyer, William Ward, says Coleman made the wrong call. “If the prerogative writ suit were allowed to go forward with limited discovery and a hearing on the record, the plaintiffs could establish, through sworn testimony, the facts necessary to throw out the municipal action,” says Ward, of Florham Park’s Carlin, Ward, Ash & Heiart LLC.
Ward’s partner and co-counsel, James Turteltaub, says Costello’s ruling is fair. “We’re very pleased for our client that the court listened to their argument and made a sound decision which vindicated the property owners’ rights,” he says. – By Lisa Brennan
Jury raises price for city on condemnation – Atlanticville , July 25, 2003 [PDF, 286 KB]
A jury has given Fred and Dorothy Strahlendorf what they say Long Branch would not-a fair price for their home On July 15, a six-person sitting in Superior Court Judge Ronald L. Reisner’s Freehold courtroom ruled that the $179,000 value the city placed on the Strahlendorf’s two-story home was not adequate and awarded the longtime city residents $500,000 for their house and property which is just 235 feet from the city’s beachfront….[ William] Ward argued in court that the property was enhanced by its very location of being one house in from the beach. – By Carolyn O’Connell, Staff writer