What’s wrong with this picture?
A family in the development business hosts a fundraiser for Assemblyman Joseph Cryan of Union Township, NJ. A few days later in May, an ordinance is introduced by Union Township allowing the developers to build 90 townhouses on six acres of abandoned land. The problem? Union Township doesn’t own the land! The owner is private citizen Carol Segal.
Not only does this situation reek of corruption and abuse of power, it is highly reflective of the growth in eminent domain abuse. When the Supreme Court voted on a case (Kelo v. New London) that would allow the city of New London, CT to condemn land in order to take it and give it to private developers to spur development in economically stagnant locales, conservative and liberal politicians were both upset. Yet, the difference in this case is that the owner of the land already had the exact same plans as Union Township to develop the land.
Segal…signed a contract last week to sell his property to Centex Homes for about $13 million, contingent upon local approval. Centex, a nationally known developer with projects in Middlesex, Morris and Monmouth counties, would then build 100 townhouses on Segal’s property…
Florio and Capodice [the mayor and deputy mayor] said they preferred AMJM because it is a local company.
“I’ve never heard of Centex,” Capodice said. “They’re not Union County people.”
Throughout his interactions with Cryan and other Union County committee members, it became clear to Segal that “they were trying to steal my land the whole time.”