Are you a homeowner in the United States? Or anywhere around the world, really? If yes, chances are you worked hard to pay for it. Maybe you just got your mortgage. Maybe you’ve paid off your mortgage. Maybe you’re still paying for it.
It doesn’t matter, though. Your house is more than just bricks and mortar, built with borrowed money from the bank. It’s your home. A place where you’ve build memories. A place where you can see yourself living forever.
That’s probably how Charlie Birnbaum felt. His house, which has actually been in his family for generations, sits on land near Revel Casino in Atlantic City. The 68-year-old works as a piano tuner for various casinos on the boardwalk. He’s been doing so for nearly 30 years and while he doesn’t live at the house, it’s his place of business.
That place of business is filled with memories. He grew up there. He proposed to his wife there. Like most Americans, it’s more than a house. To use an overused cliché, it’s a home.
But it might not be his for long. The state of New Jersey wants to take it away from home. New Jersey’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has put together a plan to revitalize the neighborhood. That revitalization includes doing something with the land on which Birnbaum’s house sits. The state is using something called eminent domain to take the house away. To be fair, the state will pay $238,500 for the property, but that’s a moot point since Birnbaum might not have a say in the matter.
While this all seems unfair, eminent domain allows the state to seize private property if it will further the public good. Similar laws have been used elsewhere to seize property where the state needs to build a highway, or construct a hydro corridor, or something similar.
But this is a bit different and Birnbaum may have a case. That’s because if the state seizes the property, they’ll be using the land for private development, not public development. Essentially, Birnbaum could be forced to give up the house he’s called a home for years so that another casino could go up in its place.
When asked about his thoughts on what’s transpiring, Governor Chris Christie reviewed to speak out against the potential seizure.
“It depends upon the circumstances. That is what eminent domain is all about, that’s why we have the ability for people to go to court and work through that,” noted Christie. “I can’t give a generalized answer on that. A generalized answer is just sophomoric and I won’t give one.“
That indecisive answer is what you’d expect from someone likely running for President of the United States, but that’s a post for another day.
Birnbaum plans to fight the seizure, so expect to hear more about this Atlantic City property struggle in the future. At Prism Casino we’ll keep our ears to the boardwalk and keep you updated on what transpires, so stay locked to the Prism Casino blog.————————————————————-
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