Environmental Implications of the Gallenthin Realty Blight Condemnation Case:

Jonathan is absolutely right to point to the environmental implications of the Gallenthin Realty case, discussed in his and my recent posts (linked below). I would add that much of the land that the Borough of Paulsboro sought to condemn in order to make it part of a "redevelopment" project, was in fact being used for environmental and conservation purposes. According to the New Jersey Supreme Court opinion, most of the property consisted of "undeveloped wetlands" that had been designated as protected wetlands by the state Department of Environmental Protection. In addition:

Gallenthin [the owner] leased portions of the property to an environmental clean-up organization, Clean Ventures, in 1997 and 1998. Clean Ventures used the property for river access, employee parking,and storage. Additionally, since 1997, a wild-growing reed, phragmites australis (phragmites), has been harvested from the Gallenthin property three times a year. The reed can be used as cattle feed and, according to plaintiffs, is recognized by the federal Environmental Protection Agency as a valuable plant species that actively neutralizes soil pollutants.

Tracy Johnson (www):
Back in the mid 90s, I once met a city-planning official who liked Sim-City. Perhaps it has become all-pervasive? Too many city planners have played Sim-City in their off-hours and they just can't get it out of their heads that it is not a requirement to zone every square acre as green, blue or yellow! I'm just wondering who's going to build the first Arcopolis?
6.13.2007 5:14pm
Tracy Johnson (www):
Oops that comment should have been put in the "Is Open Space 'Blighted'?" post.
6.13.2007 5:15pm
Erkum (mail):
Here by Lake Erie, Phragmities is a scourge; some genetic mutation turned it into a super-weed, and now it's choking off the wetlands, starving out cattails and muskrats alike. Federalism probably prevents the MDNR from dealing with edicts from on high to 'preserve' phragmities, but I'd like to see someone come here and try to make that point without getting run out of nature parks.
6.13.2007 7:31pm
TJIT (mail):
Not an attorney but I would assume the original Kelo decision breached almost every conservation easement ever signed.

Is that a correct assumption?
6.13.2007 7:49pm
After 30 years I quit a large conservation org.

They were spending money, a lot, to oppose an anti-Kelo initiative.

The reason? The state could no longer take lands and give them to the org.
6.13.2007 7:51pm
A similar issue is at work within the management of National Park, Forest, BLM land. When a natural area is declared a National-whatever, the governing agency instantly has to justify its existance by insuring the acquisition is 'useful.' That usually translates into increasing the number of visitors, and maximizing all the possible revenue streams available.

Unfortunately, these practices take a toll on the very environment they're intended to protect. Case in point: smog in Yosemite Valley.

As tree-huggy as even the environmentalists claim to be, every person has a cultural problem with declaring that there's value in just leaving something alone.
6.13.2007 8:27pm
Milhouse (www):
Waitaminnit, if this land was protected wetlands (presumably under federal law) then how was the Borough planning to "redevelop" it?
6.14.2007 3:40am
markm (mail):
Milhouse: Probably they'd construct an artificial swamp elsewhere. The federal laws allow this, although the wetlands experts I know are pretty dubious about such things; you can dig a hole so it attracts water and seed it with wetland vegetation, but the value (and often the long term survival) of a wetland often lies in it's connection to water flows through the substrata, which no one knows how to re-direct. It would probably be better to just tax wetland destruction.
6.14.2007 1:56pm