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Eminent domain showdown tomorrow
Eminent domain showdown tomorrow
HOBOKEN — The city council is once again being asked to authorize a controversial plan to take two businesses in the Northwest Redevelopment Zone — but its anyone's guess if Mayor David Roberts can win the five votes needed to introduce the ordinance at tomorrow's council meeting.
In March, the council withdrew an ordinance authorizing the condemnation of two Grand Street properties, citing a lawsuit filed by the redeveloper, Ursa/Tarragon.
The lawsuit accused the city council of dragging its feet on the vote, and as a result, violating a 1998 contract that requires the governing body to use its power of eminent domain to take the businesses — D. Kwitman and Son, a factory and U-Store-It, a self-storage facility.
Last month, state Superior Court Judge Carmen Messano ordered the city to make a decision.
Council members are faced with mounting opposition from the public who argue that the eight-year old redevelopment study no longer applies to the bustling northwest neighborhood.
Complicating matters even further is a potential conflict of interest involving two council members.
Michele Russo, the wife of former Mayor Anthony Russo and the mother of Councilman Michael Russo, is the designated real estate agent if the properties are converted into condos.
Councilwoman Theresa Castellano, who is a cousin of Anthony Russo, may abstain for the same reason.
Roberts, who said he couldn't tell how the vote would go, said he is concerned of repercussions from the city breaking an eight-year old contract for which the city has already reaped benefits.
According to a memo from Corporation Counsel Joseph Sherman, the failure of the city to adhere to its contractual obligations can subject the city to compensatory damages in excess of $20 million
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