The Paterson Parking Authority has lost its two-year long battle to take over the Levine family property through eminent domain.
New Jersey appellate court judges Jose L. Fuentes, Jessica R. Mayer, and Catherine I. Enright delivered the latest defeat for the Paterson Parking Authority last Tuesday. The parking agency had appealed a previous adverse court ruling.
“Having reviewed the record, we are satisfied the judge properly held the Authority could not condemn the Property because it is situated within Area #11, which the City designated as an area in need of rehabilitation under the LRHL, and the Authority was never designated a redevelopment entity, redevelopment agency, or authorized by the municipality to exercise redevelopment or rehabilitation powers consistent with the [Local Redevelopment and Housing Law] LRHL. Absent the ‘authority to condemn,’ the Authority cannot obtain preliminary access to the Property,” wrote the judges in their decision dated Mar. 24.
Jeff Levine of Levine Industries, which makes boxes and packaging materials from its almost 3-acre site on the corner of Courtland and Levine Street, welcomed the decision.
“There’s actually some justice for people and businesses,” said Levine on Wednesday. He felt the Paterson Parking Authority was using the coercive power of the government to confiscate his family’s property. The Levine family has been doing business from the location for 143 years.
Tony Perez, director of the Paterson Parking Authority, on Wednesday, a day after the ruling, said he was unaware of the adverse decision. Levine said his attorney contacted him hours after the decision was released by the judges. He was skeptical Perez had not been informed about the decision the next day.
“We respect the judges’ ruling. We’re going to assess our position and make a decision. We got a lot of things going on,” said Perez on Thursday.
Levine said the parking agency wasted public money in going after his family. Perez has been ordered to pay the family’s legal expenses in the case. Previously, the Paterson Parking Authority incurred $72,000 in legal expenses.
Perez said the agency’s law firm, McManimon, Scotland & Baumann, filed the appeal on a pro bono basis. He still has to cover the family’s legal fees. Perez estimates their legal expenses at $22,000, but Levine said it’s $30,000 to $40,000.
Perez wanted the family’s property to construct a parking garage with housing, retail, and office space. He estimated the project cost at $85 million. The Levine property is steps away from St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center and the growing South Paterson business area. He said he is looking for other properties in the vicinity of the hospital to build a parking garage.
Perez said he offered the family a whopping $9 million for the 2.7-acre space. He said he was disappointed both parties could not reach an agreement.
Email: [email protected]