Chris Christie unaware of eminent domain bill he signed two weeks ago

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks after his swearing in ceremony inside of the Patriots Theater at the War Memorial in Trenton, New Jersey January 21, 2014. Credit: Reuters
Credit: Reuters

In the latest piece of bad news for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie since 2014 began, he has criticized eminent domain legislation he already signed and which he was apparently unaware of.

Christie answered a caller during a radio talk show who asked about a bill to support eminent domain actions by New Jersey universities in Camden by saying that he would “take a close look at the bill,” the Inquirer reported.

However, as the caller informed the governor, such a bill was signed into law by Christie in January.

The bill reportedly empowers the joint board of governors of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University, which was formed last year for new health sciences partnership between the academic institutions, to employ eminent domain in Camden.

Eminent domain is the controversial legal doctrine that allows the government to seize private property for a “public good.” However, it has been employed on behalf of private corporations. In notable past examples, Pfizer seized a property in Connecticut; and Forest City Ratner seized land in central Brooklyn, New York, for the building of a basketball stadium. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is currently employing eminent domain to buy out properties for modifications to I-95 in Bridesburg and Frankford.

But Christie said he had no idea that the New Jersey state senate bill had approved the Rutgers-Rowan bill which he signed.

He said there was “certainly nothing that Sen. Sweeney has brought up with me in terms of eminent domain.”

Christie reportedly signed this bill and 99 others on Jan. 21.

A synopsis of the bill states that it “revises the authorities of the Rowan University-Rutgers Camden Board of Governors and authorizes Rowan University to participate in public-private partnerships.”

Specifically the bill grants the Rutgers-Rowan board the power to acquire land through eminent domain.

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