Casino project could prompt new NJ la...

Casino project could prompt new NJ land-grab flap

There are 2 comments on the International Herald Tribune story from Sep 4, 2008, titled Casino project could prompt new NJ land-grab flap. In it, International Herald Tribune reports that:

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. : More than 20 years after fleeing communism in Vietnam, where his business was seized and he was jailed, Quang Ha fears he could lose his business in this country.

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Since: Feb 08

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#1 Sep 6, 2008
International Herald Tribune
Casino project could prompt new NJ land-grab flap

The Associated Press
Thursday, September 4, 2008

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.: More than 20 years after fleeing communism in Vietnam, where his business was seized and he was jailed, Quang Ha fears he could lose his business in this country.

He and other property owners in Atlantic City are afraid the city could try to take their land to make way for a $2 billion casino.

"I'm too small," the jewelry store owner said. "That's why they're stepping on me."

The City Council voted Wednesday night to designate land near the former Sands Casino Hotel — where Pinnacle Entertainment plans to build its beach house-themed casino — as an area in need of redevelopment.

But the council included only land already owned by Pinnacle, saying it might add other properties later. For now, that spares Quang's shop.

Quang's not upset about being left out of the zone — or at the prospect of getting a higher price for his property from the city if he is compelled to sell it. Rather, he objects to cities exercising the power of eminent domain, which he considers an abuse of government power akin to those in communist countries.

Eminent domain is a legal process by which governments — after paying fair compensation to the owner — can take control of privately owned property they determine they need for a public purpose.

It originally was used to acquire land for highways, public buildings and airports but now is often used to clear the way for private commercial projects on the theory that the economic activity they generate benefits the public.

Atlantic City officials say they have no plan to use eminent domain to help assemble land for the Pinnacle project.

"There are only rare occasions when it should be used," Mayor Scott Evans said.

Jack Plackter, an attorney for Pinnacle, said the company already has bought most of the land it needs and is "extremely sympathetic to property owners' rights."

"But, say there's one small property at the center of the site where we've offered one and a half or even two times what it's worth, and they're still refusing to sell," Plackter said. "Some neutral third party would have to weigh the needs and rights of that property owner to be fairly compensated against a project that could create 10,000 or 15,000 jobs."

Nancy Steele, whose family has owned a landmark fudge shop on the Boardwalk for 30 years, said Pinnacle approached her about a year ago about acquiring her property, then backed off when the economy turned sour. She's nervous that when the company's plans move forward, she could be faced with losing her business.

"We bought this thinking we'd be here forever," she said. "To think someone can come and take it away is troubling."

But she stopped short of saying she'd never sell, regardless of the price offered.

"I'd have to consult with my partners," she said.
International Herald Tribune Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune |

Since: Feb 08

Location hidden

#2 Sep 6, 2008
Well, this is finally getting some coverage. It's only been going on since December '07. It's received almost no coverage in the local paper. And no one from the media has ever spoken with the property owners involved to find out how this all started.

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