- What is the Turnpike Widening Program’s current schedule?
The Authority has recently completed the Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Investigation Phase of the Program and is transitioning into the Final Design Phase. Construction activities are scheduled to commence in 2009 and be completed in 2014.
- Will the Authority be conducting Public Hearings for the Widening Program?
Yes. The Authority held Executive Order 172 Public Hearings for the Widening Program in September of 2007.
- Has an Environmental Impact State (EIS) been prepared for the Program?
Yes. A copy of the EIS, dated January 2007, is available for review in “Available Documents” located under Widening Program Overview in the left hand navigation bar.
- Will Noise Barriers be constructed as part of the Widening Program?
Yes. Preliminary Engineering has identified a total of ten locations within the Widening Program’s corridor that warrant the construction of a Noise Barrier. These locations were depicted on the maps available at the Public Information Center held in December 2006 and will again be presented at the Executive Order 172 Public Hearings, anticipated to be conducted in the Summer of 2007.
- When will I be notified that all, or part, of my property is needed for the Turnpike Widening Program?
As per the requirements of New Jersey’s Eminent Domain Act of 1971 (N.J.S.A. 20:3-1 et seq.), if your property is needed, you will be contacted by the Authority’s appraiser via certified mail. The purpose of the contact is to allow for you to have an opportunity to meet with the appraiser during his or her inspection of the property, in order to ask questions and provide information you consider relevant to the valuation process. At that time you will be provided a map depicting the parcel being acquired, accompanied by a narrative description. Once the appraisal is completed and approved by the Authority, you will be given a written offer of the amount believed to represent just compensation.
- Who determines the offer of just compensation for the property to be acquired?
The Authority determines the just compensation amount to be offered the property owner in a two-step process. The appraiser researches the real estate market and presents an appraisal of the fair market value. A review appraiser evaluates that appraisal and recommends an amount for approval as the Authority’s estimate of just compensation. Under no circumstances will this amount be less that the Authority’s approved appraisal.
- Must all offers to acquire property be made in writing?
The first time an offer to purchase is made; it must be in writing and be in the full amount of the approved appraisal. Subsequent formal offers and notices are also required to be in writing. This does not preclude the use of verbal discussions during negotiations to arrive at an agreed purchase price for the property.
- What if the owner doesn't agree with the amount offered? Is condemnation the only solution when an agreement can’t be reached on the purchase of property for the project?
The possibility of an administrative settlement should be explored. Authority officials may approve the use of an administrative settlement if it is reasonable, prudent and in the public interest. If all efforts to acquire the property by agreement fail, then the process of condemnation will be instituted. There are considerable protections for property owners established within this process. Among these are judicial review to ensure that the Authority has acted properly with respect to the governing statute; preliminary review by three independent commissioners, who will hear the evidence and render an award as to just compensation; if either side disagrees with the commissioner’s award, it has the right to appeal for a formal trial of the matter in Superior Court.
- Can property owners provide their own appraisal to the acquiring Authority?
Yes. The Authority will consider all relevant information in its negotiations with property owners.
- When should property owners be paid for their property?
Property owners should be paid as quickly as possible under the applicable laws, on or before the time the owner is required to give up physical possession. This must occur when the property owner transfers title. The Authority will work with the property owner to resolve any liens against the property.
- When can a property owner be required to turn possession of the property over to the Authority?
A property owner may voluntarily turn control of his or her property over to the Authority at any mutually agreeable time. The owner will not be required to give possession until the sale of the property is complete, payment is made and title transferred. In the case of property used for business, residence, or farm, the owner must be given a minimum 90-day notice in writing.
- Who are qualified appraisers?
Qualified appraisers are those determined by the New Jersey Board of Real Estate Appraisers and the Authority to be capable to perform the appraisal work needed. Only those appraisers and review appraisers who have met the requirements of each agency will be hired.
- How early can the Authority give a 90-day notice? Does it have to be written?
The notice must be in writing and can be given at the initiation of negotiations or later, providing at least 90 days advance notice of the specific date possession will be required. When given at the initiation of negotiations it will include an assurance that another notice will be given at least 30 days before the property needs to be vacated. This latter date shall not be any earlier than the date provided in the initial 90-day notice.
- Can I talk to an attorney or get my own appraisal?
Yes. In order for you to make an informed decision about the offer, you may seek the advice and counsel of a private attorney. Expenses for doing so however, are not compensable under New Jersey law.
- What if the remainder property has little or no use to me?
If the Authority determines that the remainder property has little or no value or utility to you, then it will make an additional offer to acquire the remainder property.
- Will I have to move as a result of the Authority's project?
It depends on the effect a project has on the property you currently occupy. This determination will be made well in advance of your being required to move and a relocation agent will answer any questions you may have and will be available to provide relocation assistance to you throughout the process.
- When should an interview be conducted with the owners of businesses being displaced?
General information can be included in a relocation plan, survey or study, or in an environmental document. Interviews with business owners and early advisory services are an important part of relocation planning, and are intended to facilitate the successful reestablishment of the business. Interviews should be conducted with enough lead-time to maximize the likelihood that information obtained from the interviews can assist in the successful relocation of the business. The Authority can conduct more than one interview with a business. The timing of the business interview(s) and planning may depend on the nature of the business and kind of issues involved in its relocation.
- Can I refuse to move?
If the Authority satisfies all requirements of governing law for acquiring the property you own and/or occupy, whether it is acquired through negotiation or eminent domain, then you are required to move.
- Will I have a say in where I choose to move?
If you are required to move from your principal residence (domicile), the Authority will assist you in locating and purchasing a comparable replacement residential dwelling, however, you may choose a new location and dwelling of your choice as long as it meets applicable housing standard requirements. There may be restrictions on the amount of financial assistance provided by the Authority in your purchase of a replacement dwelling and such restrictions will be explained to you in advance. If you are relocating a business, assistance is available to help you find a replacement location by providing listings of available properties for your consideration. You will be responsible for selecting a replacement location.
- Will I be reimbursed for expenses I incur?
Yes, you will be reimbursed the actual, reasonable and necessary costs incurred for moving your personal property to a new location. You will also receive reimbursement of certain expenses that are necessary to purchase or rent and occupy a comparable replacement residential dwelling. A business is also eligible for reimbursement for the actual, reasonable and necessary costs incurred for moving personal property to a new location. A relocation agent will provide you with detailed information about these, and all other benefits eligible to you in this regard.
- Will someone be available to answer my questions?
Yes, the Authority places a high priority on its provision of advisory services to persons who must relocate to accommodate a transportation project. You will be provided with the name, address and telephone number of a relocation agent who will be available to assist you throughout the moving process.
- Is there a process available to contest the Authority's relocation assistance actions.
Yes, persons displaced by public transportation projects may appeal the Authority’s relocation assistance actions, including the determination of a person’s eligibility for or the amount of relocation assistance. These rights are afforded in accordance with the New Jersey Relocation Assistance Act of 1971 (N.J.S.A. 20:4-1 et seq.)