6/02/2006

Mayor Using Eminent Domain to Take Family Farm: The Conservative Voice, 5/14/06

By Sher Zieve

Piscataway, New Jersey Mayor Brian C. Wahler is said to be using eminent domain to take the family-owned Halper farm. In 2005, the US Supreme Court ruled in Kelo v New London that the US Constitution’s eminent domain clause now allows private developers in conjunction with municipalities to seize citizen-owned private property — if a community’s tax base will be increased by the seizures and subsequent new developments.

Logan Darrow Clements, who recently worked toward creating the Lost Liberty Hotel, advised in a Saturday e-newsletter that he and his crew had attempted to interview Wahler. Clements wrote: “We found Mayor Wahler and started questioning him. He walked away. We followed him and kept questioning him. Within a few moments police officers confronted us. Wahler's answer was that the farm was being taken for "open spaces". When I indicated that a farm is already an open space he walked off again. Now a large group of police officers surrounded my two cameramen and myself. The police formed a circle around us and demanded our identification papers. We refused. One of the officers grabbed my arm as if to take me away. Other officers did their best to block the cameras.”

Clements advised the confrontation with the city’s police continued with: “By now we were surrounded by an even larger swarm of police officers that were demanding our identification papers while at the same time demanding that we leave. I made reference to a once-popular document called the Constitution with its provisions of freedom of the press and freedom of speech. This was of little interest to the police officers surrounding us.”

The Mayor and City of Piscataway claim that the township has “been in litigation with the proprietors of the family owned Halper Farm property for years” and that “parts of the property contain hazardous contaminants”. Halper family members have until 24 May to vacate their property.


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