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Judge delays eminent domain action for at least 6 months

A man fighting against an agency in another state to keep his property from being taken gets to stay, at least for now. A judge in New Jersey has ruled that the state’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority cannot invoke eminent domain on the house until it shows it really will redevelop the property.

The homeowner lives in Atlantic City, which has been struggling in recent years with several casino closings. His house is near the former Revel Casino Hotel. Though he does not live in the three-story house, the man uses the ground floor for his piano-tuning business and rents the top two stories.

CRDA sought to take the property and redevelop it as part of a mixed-use “tourism district” project. The state agency offered the owner fair market value for it, about $240,000, the man said. However, re refused the offer and the matter went to court.

In November, a judge sided with CRDA, but the homeowner appealed. He and his attorneys argued that CRDA lacked a specific redevelopment plan for the land, the Asbury Park Press reports.

On Aug. 19, the judge agreed, overturning his own ruling. He noted that casino revenue in Atlantic City is down, and the way CRDA receives funding could change, if a bill passed by the Legislature is signed into law. He gave the agency six months to come up with “reasonable assurances” that the proposed redevelopment will actually take place.

This may only give this property owner a six-month reprieve, but this ruling may also let him keep his home permanently. The house originally belonged to his parents, who bought it in 1969.

People facing the loss of their home or other property in Florida to eminent domain should not give up without a fight, if they do not want to leave.

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