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BLOOMFIELD, NJ -- For almost seven years, the Township of Bloomfield has been in
litigation over the .62 acre plot of land abutting the NJ Transit Station along
Lackawanna Place. The former owner has repeatedly demanded more money that
experts and judicial bodies have assessed its value to be. For the second time
in 12 months, a judicial body has deemed the former owner’s demands
The property was
obtained by eminent domain in June, 2012. Expert property assessors ruled in
May 2012 that renovation of the existing train station on the property
constituted the highest and best use of the property, and valued the estate at
$440,000, an amount the Township immediately offered to the former owner. After
the owner contested the property assessment, a panel of court-appointed
condemnation commissioners determined the property’s value at $506,433, a
number the former owner also rejected, on the assumption that the 3,617 square
foot train station, situated on 0.62 acres of land would be a suitable space
for a 34-unit development with almost 13,000 square feet of commercial space,
and asked for the Township to pay $3,207,000.
At a 2016 trial,
the judge precluded Bloomfield Township’s expert witness from presenting
evidence that the seven-figure assessment was impractical, and a jury
determined that the Township should pay the former owner $2,900,000. In April
2018, following the Township’s appeal of the ruling, an appellate court panel
returned the case to the trial court for a new trial. Following a
two week trial in December 2018, an Essex County jury returned a favorable
verdict for the Township by determining the property’s fair value to be $1.6M.
Both parties have
45 days from the December 19 ruling to agree to terms, or enter more fruitless
“While we are not
happy about the final judgement, we are pleased that this matter is behind us
and we can move forward with the renovation of this historic train station,”
said Township Administrator Matthew Watkins.