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N.J. court rules no blight, no eminent domain

June 14, 2007|From the Associated Press

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. — In a victory for private property rights, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that local governments can't seize land against the owner's wishes simply because the property is underused.

The court ruled unanimously that the Legislature did not intend for eminent domain to be used solely because a property is "not fully productive." Only "blighted" areas are authorized for seizure under the state Constitution, the court said.

The case centered on 63 acres of mostly wetlands in Paulsboro across the Delaware River from Philadelphia International Airport.

The family that owns the land started using it more than 100 years ago to dock boats carrying produce, but it had not been used in recent years. When Paulsboro included the property on a redevelopment plan, the owners sued to keep it.

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