By David Madden
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (CBS) — A David and Goliath case of eminent domain down the shore comes down, for now, in David’s favor, but maybe not for long, depending on which side you ask.
A Superior Court Judge says redevelopment officials in Atlantic City cannot seize a man’s house without a reasonable assurance it’ll really be used as planned.
A property owned by retired piano tuner Charlie Birnbaum stands alone on an empty block that the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has targeted for a potential project in the South Inlet section of town.
Birnbaum’s lawyer, Robert McNamara with the Washington-based Institute for Justice, says the decision buys his client some time, at the very least.
“The CRDA is not going to be allowed to take Charlie’s property unless they can come up with some better evidence that they’re actually going to do something useful with it.” McNamara told KYW Newsradio, ” And that’s a huge victory for Charlie and for property rights.”
That’s not exactly the way the agency views the court decision.
CRDA attorney Stuart Lederman says “There are 3 pieces of legislation that have passed the senate and the assembly in New Jersey that are sitting on the Governor’s desk which may change the funding of CRDA.”
Lederman says once Governor Chris Christie decides on those bills, the agency can decide whether it can go ahead with the project. And he believes the order simply allows his client’s time to address the situation.
The order grants the CRDA 6 months to respond.