A Superior Court judge held last week that the Gloucester County Improvement Authority properly exercised its power of eminent domain and may proceed with the taking of a portion of the Paulsboro property owned by members of the Gallenthin family — the same family that was successful in stopping a previous effort to take their property for municipal redevelopment purposes in the New Jersey Supreme Court decision in Gallenthin Realty Development v. Borough of Paulsboro, 191 N.J. 344 (2007).
The 2007 decision involved the Borough of Paulsboro’s attempt to seize a 63 acre property owned by George Gallenthin and his family along the Delaware River, but the Borough was denied when the Supreme Court held that the area including the Gallenthin property did not qualify as an “area in need of redevelopment” under New Jersey law.
In the more recent case, the Gloucester County Improvement Authority has acquired a three acre portion of the larger parcel to use for a road and bridge in connection with a proposed port in Paulsboro, not muncipal redevelopment purposes. The GCIA had offered Gallenthin $443,000 for the property, and Gallenthin responded by demanding nearly $5,000,000 for the parcel. Because the parties were unable to agree upon a price, the GCIA initiated condemnation proceedings earlier this year in Superior Court.
In the current eminent domain case, Gallenthin sought a dismissal of the GCIA’s complaint, objecting to GCIA’s right to condemn on several grounds, including an allegation that the GCIA had acted improperly and had not engaged in bona fide negotiations with the owner, which are required under New Jersey’s Eminent Domain Act. These objections were heard and rejected by the court, which entered a judgment affirming the GCIA’s taking, thereby referring the matter to court-appointed condemnation commissioners who will eventually conduct a valuation hearing on the issue of just compensation unless Gallenthin appeals the court’s decision on the right to condemn.
For more on this recent decision, read this article by Christina Paciolla in The Gloucester County Times.