Eminent Domain: When is enough, enough?

When is enough, enough?

03/13/2006 Hoboken Reporter

Dear Editor:
Does Councilman Cricco expect Hoboken residents to pick up the pom-poms and cheer along with him at the wonderful philanthropy being displayed by (surprise, surprise two of the mayor's biggest contributors) URSA/Tarragon? We finally have some developers giving back to the community that made them rich and now the city council wants us to believe that we are indebted to them? The band has been paid. Don't get me wrong, I applaud "givebacks" (not boondoggles) and consider them long overdue but how much money have the various developers made in our city? In addition, is this a display of pure altruism or just the mere fact that many residents are sick and tired of developers getting their way and giving back very little for the huge profits they make? Maybe URSA/Tarragon decided it would actually be cost effective to invest a small fraction of the money they have made back into the community. You know...good PR and all that. Oh, but let us all applaud and kowtow now along with the rest of the city council. Do they think us that inept?

In the early stages of Hoboken's gentrification, the need to lure developers put the leverage in their hands. For more than a decade now that leverage has shifted to favor Hoboken, but still, time and time again tax breaks and variances are given out in return for what? If anyone cares to do a little research, you will find that many cities and towns require that developers have available units for moderate income families, so please do not insult us by pointing out how generous the developers are being by providing this. It's long overdue, and it is done to sustain balance. I wonder if any of the council members that supported this would be showing the same obsequious deference if it were someone in their family that has been in business for a quarter century and now faces what seems to be the inevitable.

I often encounter on Observer Highway bumper-to-bumper traffic from Washington Street to the train trestle leaving town. Fourteenth Street and the Weehawken bridges fair no better. With the current development in progress, do we really need to put these people out for 150 units? It seems a bit rapacious. How much is enough? If the decision makers at URSA/Tarragon really cared about the neighborhood they wouldn't be putting these people out. What's up? There's not enough for everyone to eat or you guys can't just get enough. Here's an idea, instead of constantly needing more money to feed the budget, our current administration can find a way to reduce spending and run itself more efficiently.

In regards to Mr. Campos' statement about the "contractual and moral obligation," I make no claim to understand the law regarding this matter but one question does nag at me. How could the city of Hoboken promise land that they did not and possibly might not have the right to possess to a developer? Did they not foresee that eminent domain could be challenged by the current owners? Jersey City dropped their attempt to possess the Flamingo diner via eminent domain after being presented with a petition bearing over 10,000 signatures from supporters. Councilman Cammarano states that the current owners could file suit. Does the city have no moral obligation to them? Maybe it has more to do with money than moral obligation. I guess the citizens of Hoboken are going to foot the bill on a law suit by one side or the other.

Well anyway, I wish Kwitman & Son, U-Store-It, Sandy Azzollini, Maxi Plant, Ann Graham and the rest of the residents of that area the best of luck. Two months away from house closing and joining the Hoboken diaspora.

William M. Genese

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