JERSEY CITY – Residents in the McGinley Square community will tonight deliver a petition to the City Council protesting language in the city’s McGinley Square East Redevelopment Plan, which the council will begin to consider at its meeting this evening.
Tonight’s City Council agenda includes a resolution that, if approved, would recognize McGinley Square East as an area in need of redevelopment and rehabilitation. The agenda also includes the first reading of an ordinance adopting the McGinley Square East Redevelopment Plan, which was drafted by the Division of City Planning.
Residential and commercial property owners in the McGinley Square community fear that language in both the ordinance and resolution could open the door to eminent domain in the future, and over the past month they have organized a citywide campaign against the use of eminent domain.
The McGinley Square East Redevelopment Plan calls for the redevelopment of a roughly three-block area that will eventually include a combination of new housing and commercial space. Specifically, it calls for market-rate and workforce housing, offices, new retail, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and theaters, in addition to museums and art galleries. The plan also includes new parking to accommodate the expected increase in population and commercial traffic.
There are approximately 52 properties that are tentatively affected by the redevelopment plan.
Property owners first became concerned about the prospect of eminent domain several weeks ago after dozens of them received letters from the Jersey City Department of Housing, Economic Development & Commerce Division. The letters read, in part: “The Jersey City Division of City Planning has completed a study of the McGinley Square East Study Area, which includes property you own…This will designate your property as subject to taking by eminent domain for redevelopment purposes and will authorize the City of Jersey City and/or the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency to acquire ownership by purchase of the property referenced above by condemnation.”
This means the city can seize the property against the owners’ will, even though they would be compensated.
Despite reassurances from the city and a private developer that eminent domain will only be used as a last resort to redevelop McGinley Square, several property owners in the area are still gearing up for a fight to keep their homes and businesses.
The residents began circulating a petition throughout the city asking the council to pass laws to protect property owners from eminent domain and to reclassify areas of the city that have been designated as being in need of redevelopment.
Tonight’s City Council meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 280 Grove Street. – E. Assata Wright