Machu_Picchu_-_Juin_2009_-_edit.2

ABANDONED AND RECLAIMED BY NATURE

By SHERRI RUGGIERI

My daughter and I frequently watch a television program called “Mysteries of the Abandoned” https://www.sciencechannel.com/tv-shows/mysteries-of-the-abandoned/.    It occurred to me that this T.V. series reveals the underlying purpose of “Local Redevelopment and Housing Law” in New Jersey.   This law attempts to “redevelop” abandoned, blighted, dilapidated, and unused properties by repurposing the designated areas.  However, the positive reasoning for enactment of this law continues to be shrouded in the dark veil of the eminent domain controversies and litigation (taking of private property by a public entity).  The public continues to be suspicious of the motivation for designating redevelopment areas and blocks the reclaiming of the abandoned.

The governing body of a municipality, by resolution, authorizes the Planning Board to “undertake a preliminary investigation to determine whether the proposed area is a redevelopment area according to the criteria set forth in section 5 of P.L. 1992, c. 79 (C.40A:12A-5).”   This “preliminary” study by a NJ licensed professional planner of a “Non-Condemnation Redevelopment Area” should eliminate the public’s fear of eminent domain. Furthermore, the public can hire an attorney to object to the designation by attacking the logical reasoning and application of the “criteria” of the law.  A Planning Board can ultimately deny the recommendation to the governing body of a “Non-Condemnation Redevelopment Area.”  However, in this initial stage, the governing body can overrule this decision by the Planning Board and continue the procedure.

The process for change occurs slowly.  With the threat of litigation, the area can once again be “abandoned” and left vacant.  Nature will then be left to take back the land.  The height of human engineering and power can quickly become devoured by stronger natural forces.  After all, people and society are fragile.  An individual person’s life is temporary.    Control is an illusion.

Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.

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