Landowner Must Be Notified of Blight Designation According to New Jersey Court
The use of eminent domain to condemn private property for redevelopment because it is declared to be "blighted" must now be preceded by adequate notice to the property owner in the State of New Jersey. According to the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division on February 28 in Harrison Development Agency v. DeRose, the state's procedure for designating private property as "blighted" is unconstitutional because it violates due process by not letting the owners know of the risk of losing the property and not allowing enough time to challenge the designation. Mr. DeRose, who now owns a truck repair business in the area, was not yet the owner of the property when he received a notice of a meeting of the planning board because he owned another property in the area. The meeting was to determine whether the land, which is near the banks of the Passaic River, should be designated for redevelopment under the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law. The notice did not reveal that the state law provides that a blight designation could lead to the taking of property by eminent domain or that only 45 days were available to challenge the designation. The court affirmed the principle that due process requires adequate notice of what the government intends to do and an opportunity to be heard.