NJ Trial Court Holds Final Argument in Atlantic City Eminent Domain Abuse Case

John Kramer
John Kramer · October 15, 2014

NJ Trial Court Holds Final Argument in Atlantic City Eminent Domain Abuse Case

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 / 10:30 a.m.

Superior Court of New Jersey
Before The Honorable Julio L. Mendez
Atlantic City Civil Court Building
1201 Bacharach Boulevard
Atlantic City, NJ 08401

Robert McNamara, Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice
Dan Alban, Attorney, Institute for Justice
Charlie Birnbaum, Homeowner

On October 21, 2014, Judge Julio Mendez will hear final arguments in the eminent domain battle between New Jersey’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) and longtime Atlantic City piano tuner Charlie Birnbaum. At stake is the fate of the home Charlie’s parents left to him—a place that has been in his family for decades—which CRDA wants to take and then “land bank” for some unspecified development that may or may not happen at some indeterminate point in the future.

On September 1, 2014, the twice-bankrupt Revel Casino Hotel closed its doors marking the end of a two-year multi-billion-dollar experiment in government-backed casino development. Despite the closure, however, CRDA continues to press forward with a cruel, ill-advised and totally unnecessary plan employing eminent domain in a scheme hatched back when the Revel first opened. Even though it clearly never needed Charlie’s land, and certainly doesn’t need it now that the Revel is closed, CRDA refuses to abandon its plan to take and bulldoze the Birnbaum’s longtime family home. Charlie, who lives nearby in Hammonton, now runs his piano tuning business out of the ground floor and rents the top two floors to tenants at below-market rates as a tribute to his parents.

“CRDA has no plan to do anything with Charlie’s longtime family home,” explained Robert McNamara, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, which represents Charlie. “They’re not taking this property because they need it for anything. They’re taking it because they think they can. And that’s simply not a good enough reason.”

“If CRDA can do this to Charlie, then they can do this to literally anyone in Atlantic City,” said IJ Attorney Dan Alban. “If Charlie’s property isn’t safe, no one’s property is safe.”

Click here for a brief video on this case: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCQM2_nagsM