The issue of whether the Township of Bloomfield can take the section of the Bloomfield Train Station by eminent domain is headed to court.
Howard Haberman, a Bloomfield developer, is contesting the township’s decision to seize his property, which they say has become rundown and dilapidated.
Haberman has countered that he wanted to develop his portion of the train station into a retail and restaurant complex and said instead of eminent domain, the township should negotiate with him.
The two sides will appear before Judge Patricia Costello on Friday at 1:30 p.m. in state Superior Court in Newark.
Haberman’s attorney, Anthony Della Pelle of Morristown, charged that the township of Bloomfield “deliberately misled Haberman and his firm – Bloomfield Daval Corporation – into thinking BDC would be permitted to develop the train station tract in a 2009 agreement.”
Della Pelle called the agreement “a ruse ‘to avoid litigation as the town worked with its favored developer the Bloomfield Urban Renewal Corporation.’ "
The train station is located in Block 228, slated for redevelopment into a transit village.
Glenn Domenick, Bloomfield’s Director of Community Development, said there is no merit to Haberman's claims.
“The Township has acted in good faith in its dealings with Mr. Haberman,” Domenick wrote in an email to Patch. “First, by paying him $1.95 million for land located on Block 228. Second, by attempting to find common ground through the (Memorandum of Understanding) for the development of his property. Third, by hiring, at the township's expense, an architect to evaluate the train station, prepare an estimate to repair it to historic standards and beginning the design documents for such repair. And finally, by offering to pay $440,000 (the higher of two appraisals) for this property.”
"Mr. Haberman, on the other hand, refuses to repair his property, refuses to honor his obligation to provide safe passage for the public through the train station and refuses to negotiate in good faith.
"Finally, as if this disregard for the residents of Bloomfield is not enough, Mr. Haberman joined a lawsuit seeking to prevent the redevelopment of the same property for which he was paid $1.95 million.”
Domenick continued, “The bottom line is that Bloomfield is not acquiring this property in order to sell it to another private entity. Rather, it is acquiring it for a public purpose; to provide safe access to public transportation."
Editor's Note: The hearing, originally scheduled for September 7 in Newark Superior Court, was postponed till October 4 due to illness.