Tuesday, November 14, 2006

NJ Residents Distrust Eminent Domain

From the AP:
Most New Jersey voters dislike the ability of government to take land from its owners for redevelopment, according to a poll released yesterday.

The survey also found that interest in the topic remains high nearly a year after a U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed a Connecticut city to use eminent domain to seize homes for commercial use. Several bills to restrict the use of eminent domain are pending in the state Legislature.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll asked respondents to consider four scenarios under which local and state governments might seize property; none was supported by a majority.

The least objectionable plan, found acceptable by nearly half those polled, would have "dilapidated properties" replaced by better housing and shops. Only two in seven voters said it was acceptable to raze houses and shops for a new school, while one is six said it was okay for active farmland to be taken to build a new school or ball field. Nine in 10 voters said it was not acceptable to take middle-class housing and replace it with "upscale condos and shops," said the survey, which was sponsored by the New Jersey Farm Bureau.

"This issue has staying power," said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickin son and a survey analyst for Public Mind. "In a crowded state with pressure for development, pressure for redevelopment and pressure for conservation, there is bound to be conflict."

The poll of 577 likely voters was conducted by telephone from Oct. 25 to 31 and has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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