NJ Man Defeats Eminent Domain Seizure by Crony Capitalists

‘This home represents a beacon of hope … that the impossible can happen, that we can win despite the odds being against us…’

Appellate Court Restricts New Jersey City's Eminent Domain Powers 1

Charlie Birnbaum/PHOTO: Institute for Justice

(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) A New Jersey piano tuner can rest easy in the home his family has owned for 50 years after the state’s Casino Reinvestment and Development Authority gave up the fight to seize and raze it.

Charlie Birnbaum, an Atlantic City resident, fought the state’s crony capitalists for five years and formally declared victory in March, the Institute for Justice reported.

“It is an amazing accomplishment that our home still stands even after this assault by the very government entrusted to defend our rights—including our property rights,” Birnbaum said.

“This home represents a beacon of hope for people throughout New Jersey and across the country that the impossible can happen, that we can win despite the odds being against us. It should inspire us all to keep the faith no matter how dark the prospects for success might seem.”

The CRDA said it wanted to take Birnbaum’s property through eminent domain to build accommodations for the nearby Revel Casino.

Yet the CRDA did not have a plan for what to do with the property after taking and bulldozing it.

Birnbaum won the case in trial court, but the CRDA appealed to the New Jersey Appellate Division.

The appellate court ruled in favor of Birnbaum in February, arguing that the CRDA was acting more like a private real estate speculator than as a public organization committed to Atlantic City’s common good.

Birnbaum inherited the home from his parents, Abe and Dora Birnbaum, who moved to the United States after fleeing the Nazis.

He has chosen to stay in the home both to honor their memory and because he tunes pianos at the city’s casinos.

Birnbaum has an autoimmune condition that prevents him from being away from home for long periods of time. His home’s central location in Atlantic City, near the casinos, allows him to keep working despite his ailment.

We are thrilled that Charlie will keep the home that means so much to him and his family,” said Scott Bullock, Institute for Justice‘s president and general counsel. “The Institute for Justice will not rest until every home in America is safe from eminent domain abuse.”