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.