Judge: Piano Tuner Can Keep Home New Jersey Fought to Take

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -
Piano tuner Charlie Birnbaum of Hammonton, NJ, stands in the three-story house where he was raised and displays an old image of places he remembers. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)
Piano tuner Charlie Birnbaum of Hammonton, NJ, stands in the three-story house where he was raised and displays an old image of places he remembers. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

An Atlantic City piano-tuner has won a court fight to keep his family’s three-story brick home that a state agency wanted to take for redevelopment efforts, after a judge pointed out the city’s financial straits and the lack of a specific, viable plan for the area.

Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez ruled that the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s attempt to condemn 69-year-old Charlie Birnbaum’s house is an abuse of eminent domain power and exceeds the agency’s authority.

“This has been a four-year process to finally hear this news that things can come back to some kind of normal, that our beloved place is still ours, and we can be part of whatever good is going to come to Atlantic City and it will,” said Birnbaum, whose mother was killed in the home by an intruder in 1998. “I can be part of it. That’s all I kind of asked for.”

John Palmieri, the CRDA’s executive director, said the agency is disappointed in the ruling “and will be examining the opinion to determine our next steps.”