The United States Supreme Court made it clear that it is not concerned over the potential abuse arising from economic redevelopment plans. In giving deference to state legislatures, the court gave the green light to local politicians to decide what their towns should look like, and in some cases, who should live there. In this environment, what should property owners do when confronted with an economic redevelopment plan which appears to be favoring a few select people?
Fight on the Political Front: The fight will now take on more of a political tone than before since property owners will now have little faith in the court system. Property owners will have to get involved in the redevelopment process much earlier and challenge plans before they are adopted. You will be required to monitor local newspapers and look for articles that mention “study areas” and plans to investigate areas that may be in need of redevelopment. At this point, you must start getting your “ducks in a row” and consultant a lawyer or land planner. If the city or town decides to go forward and adopt a plan, you will need to file an objection and be prepared to challenge the findings laid out in the study. Get as many people involved as possible and cause as much noise as you can in an effort to force the municipality to confront your concerns. You must also be prepared to spend money on the fight in terms of professional fees (lawyer and planner) and be prepared to go through a time consuming and expensive process.
Final Note: The Ventor case in New Jersey is going to trial on the issue of whether the Ventor plan violates the civil rights of certain protected classes of people. The civil rights challenge is a novel approach that raises serious issues when dealing with the displacement of low-income families. This is a case worth following.