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.

Read More

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.

Read More