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A municipality can’t condemn a property simply by declaring it not fully productive and thus in need of development, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday in a decision that trims back use of eminent domain for redevelopment purposes.

The justices held that a section of the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-5(e), as applied in the case, did not square with the state constitution’s requirement that a property must be “blighted” in order to be taken for redevelopment purposes.

“The New Jersey Constitution does not permit government redevelopment of private property solely because the property is not used in an optimal manner,” Chief Justice James Zazzali wrote for the unanimous court in Gallenthin Realty Development Inc. v. Paulsboro, A-51-06.

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