A New Jersey appellate panel has overturned a Hudson County Superior Court ruling that said Jersey City developers Steven and Victoria Hyman stopped paying taxes to fraudulently force a tax lien sale.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
In a 16-page ruling handed down earlier today, Jersey City argued that the Hymans “scheme is dishonest, inequitable, and contrary to what the legislature intended when it adopted the tax sale law,” which was “akin to perpetuating a fraud upon the court.”
However, the three-judge panel disagreed, noting that “the legal viability of the tax sale certificates depends on whether the holder complied with the statutory requirements of the tax sale law,” adding that the Hymans met this “objective standard.”
Later, they expressed their decision by stating the “appellants have not misrepresented themselves throughout this entire saga” and that “the city has not suffered an economic harm from the title holders’ (sic) failure to pay taxes because the taxes were paid by the holder of the tax sale certificates.”
Dan Horgan, an attorney from the Secaucus law firm Waters, McPherson, McNeil, P.C. – who has been representing the Hymans in this longstanding legal battle – called the ruling a “bad omen” for the city.
“This is, in my judgement, a bad omen for the city in a couple of different ways,” he said over the phone.
” … The between the lines message is ‘is this being watched? is it being done right? is it fair to people? They should’ve spent this money on open space as opposed to this stupid frolic. The city previously called Hyman ‘delusional,’ but obviously the appellate division did not agree with that characterization.”
The Hymans own the 14 properties that are located with the six-block embankment. They stopped paying taxes on the properties in 2009, causing the city to impose tax liens and then auction them off.
The properties were subsequently purchased at a public action by NZ Funding, which is a limited liability company owned by Steve and Victoria Hyman.
Victoria Hyman bought the land from Conrail for $3 million in 2005, with a freight train rail appearing to be a possibility for the future of the property just under a year ago.
However, Horgan added that although that plan was never near the top of the city’s priority list, that ship has since officially sailed, given that 5,000 new condo units are planned to be built in the area.
Additionally, Steve Hyman and Horgan agree the property can be worth anywhere between $50 to $100 million, while city officials have previously stated they will eventually gain ownership of the property and turn it into a park.
A city spokesman did not return an email seeking comment on appellate court’s ruling on the embankment.