To the editor,
At the June 25 Flemington Borough Council meeting, Mayor Phil Greiner and half of the Council voted to formally consider the use of eminent domain for the Main Street redevelopment project. We disagree with this resolution and believe it is a waste of taxpayers’ money and time.
Mayor Greiner emphasized that this only authorizes the exploration of the possible effects of an eminent domain ruling. This is true, yet the Mayor has hidden behind such process in the past, telling interested parties that it is too late or too early to comment. Approval processes are drawn out to such an extent that it discourages public participation. Even when residents use the designated “right” time to comment, their suggestions and concerns are not heeded. Flemington residents have asked for more information about the redevelopment project, brought up concerns at every point in the process and wanted a meaningful traffic study, yet these requests seem to only result in contempt.
With the opportunity to save time and listen to their constituents last night, Mayor Greiner, Councilwoman Brooke Warden, and Councilman Mark Hain chose not to.
Economic projections and the creation of strategic plans can lead to smarter decisions about the future of Flemington and how to spend Borough funds. Gathering more information can help make better decisions. Yet, the eminent domain study that was approved again appears to be done to benefit the developer - not Flemington residents.
It is already clear that the reasons to invoke eminent domain have not been met. This is not a public project, but a private one. There are other viable alternatives to obtain the properties in the redevelopment area, just as any resident or business owner would utilize.
Eminent domain to benefit a private developer is unnecessary and not in Flemington's best interest.
We greatly appreciate Councilperson Betsy Driver's vote against eminent domain. She and council members Michael Harris and Susan Peterson voted responsibly, upholding their fiscal and moral duty to the residents and business owners of Flemington.
As candidates for Flemington Borough Council ourselves, we support and recognize the essential need for redevelopment in Flemington, but also pledge to demand fairness and a critical assessment of any agreement.
Caitlin Giles-McCormick and Chris Runion