Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court denied a petition for certification filed by the Diocese of Camden in behalf of St Mary’s Cemetery in Bellmawr. As reported by the Republic.com, in 2010, the New Jersey Department of Transportation acquired by exercise of eminent domain a six acre parcel owned by the church for its Route 295 Direct Connection Project. The part taken did not include any grave sites, but the Diocese claimed that several of the interred may need to be relocated because the roadway project “might disturb the tranquility” of some sites. The church has operated the cemetery site for 50 years.
The State had offered $1.9 million for the acquisition, but the church argued that the land was worth more than ten times that amount when taking into consideration the relocation costs (which apparently were not included in the offer amount). See Courier Post Online story. Therefore the church challenged the NJDOT’s right to take, which was initially affirmed by the Appellate Division in October of 2012.
Photo Courtesy – CHRIS LaCHALL/COURIER-POST.
Absent making application for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, the case will proceed to a valuation proceeding where the property owner will have an opportunity to present its theories to a panel of Condemnation Commissioners and then to a Camden County Jury. The second part of the process is designed to protect the property owners constitutional right to just compensation.
We’ll keep you posted.
- NJ’s top court won’t consider cemetery case (newsday.com)