Supreme Court of New Jersey Returns Affordable Housing Enforcement to the Courts

Posted by on Mar 11, 2015 in COAH and Affordable Housing Issues

By Thomas F. Carroll, III, Esq. and Stephen M. Eisdorfer, Esq.

On March 10, 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the courts will once again assume the lead role in enforcing the constitutional requirement, imposed by the Mount Laurel doctrine, that municipalities must create realistic opportunities for the construction of low and moderate income housing.

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N.J. Supreme Court Issues Decision on COAH Motion to Extend its Time for Adopting New Regulations

Posted by on Mar 19, 2014 in COAH and Affordable Housing Issues

By: Stephen Eisdorfer, Esq.

On March 14, 2014, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) to adopt new regulations establishing municipal fair share housing obligations no later than October 22, 2014.

The Court rejected COAH’s request for an open-ended extension of time to promulgate regulations. Instead, it adopted the argument made by Hill Wallack LLP on behalf of the New Jersey Builders Association (NJBA) that there must be a fixed deadline.

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Appellate Division Invalidates 20-Acre Downzoning

Posted by on Sep 24, 2013 in Downzoning, Municipal Land Use Law

By: Thomas F. Carroll, III, Esq.

On August 29, 2013, the Appellate Division reversed a trial court decision in Griepenburg v. Ocean Township and invalidated 20-acre zoning, ruling that no environmental features justified the downzoning. The court so ruled despite the fact that the land was within PA 5. The court also said that “preserving open space” was not a valid reason since the town has to pay fair market value to property owners if it wants such open space.

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In Eminent Domain, Statutory Construction Reigns Supreme

Posted by on Aug 9, 2013 in Eminent Domain

By: Cameron W. MacLeod, Esq.

Under New Jersey law, public utilities are afforded the ability to exercise eminent domain by statute. Railroads are included in the general class of public utilities, and also have their own separate statute by which to exercise eminent domain when doing is part of the “exigencies of business.” Recently, in Norfolk Southern Railway Company v. Intermodal Properties, LLC, the New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Division in permitting the exercise of eminent domain by Norfolk Southern in taking neighboring property, but did so in a way that highlights the Court’s approach to statutory interpretation.

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The End of General-Special Benefits Distinction in Harvey Cedars v. Karan and a Potential Benefit for Municipalities Exercising Eminent Domain

Posted by on Jul 9, 2013 in Eminent Domain, Superstorm Sandy Recovery

By: Cameron W. MacLeod, Esq.

New Jersey courts determining the “just compensation” value for a piece of property have long relied on the distinction between “special” and “general” benefits in deciding what evidence to admit for consideration.  “Special” benefits that affect that particular parcel could be considered for purposes of valuation; “general” benefits affecting the municipality more broadly could not.  The New Jersey Supreme Court, however, recently determined that such a distinction has “outlived its usefulness,” and adopted a valuation approach that takes into account the fair market value of the land based on all “non-speculative, reasonably calculable benefits,” regardless of whether these are due to public or private improvements.  This brings New Jersey in line with more contemporary just compensation case law, and broadens the evidentiary scope for condemnation hearings for both total and partial takings cases.  It also creates an interesting benefit for municipalities conducting improvement projects such as dune building or beach restoration, where those projects either preserve or possibly increase the value of the taken property.

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New FEMA Floodmaps Shrink “V” Zones

Posted by on Jul 5, 2013 in Superstorm Sandy Recovery

By Henry T. Chou, Esq.

On June 17, 2013, FEMA issued revised flood maps for Atlantic, Hudson, Monmouth and Ocean Counties that reflected dramatic changes from the initial Advisory Base Flood Elevation (“ABFE”) maps issued in December 2012.  To the relief of many homeowners and municipal officials, the revised flood maps show substantially scaled back Coastal “V” Zones (areas subject to severe 3-foot wave action), where substantial elevation measures are required.

The “V” Zones in the four counties were reduced by approximately 45%.  Property owners who had the “V” Zone designation removed are now designated as being in the “A” Zone, where floodproofing requirements are less onerous.  In practical terms, the change in designations means that many property owners no longer have to elevate their homes using pilings, which is an expensive and technically difficult proposition.

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