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Broadhurst v. Township of Holland Planning Board

A-5098-06T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2008) (Unpublished)

ZONING — So long as it is not being arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable, a land use board has the discretion to determine that an applicant’s submissions, such as of its stormwater management system, are complete and meet the criteria for such submissions.

A landowner sought subdivision approval from a municipal planning board by submitting an application for preliminary major subdivision approval. The board held public meetings on the application. An objector alleged that the landowner’s stormwater management plan and environmental impact statement were not available for public inspection ten days before one of the meetings as required by the Municipal Land Use Law. At the hearing, the board’s secretary produced the application file which contained all the relevant documents. In an ultimate response to notice that the open space of the property must have public street access, the board approved the builder’s grant of an access easement between its lot and that of its neighbor. After the board granted final major subdivision approval almost one year later, the objector sued to challenge the subdivision approval. The lower court dismissed the complaint as untimely and deferred to the board’s findings of public criteria. It found that the record indicated that the owner had complied with the statutory requirement by timely filing the stormwater management system.

The Appellate Division affirmed, stating that it was bound to defer to the board’s finding of fact. It also noted that the board had made a discretionary decision that could only be reversed if it was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable. The Court found that the record supported the board’s actions as reasonable. It observed that notice of the application hearing was placed in a full column in a newspaper and was extraordinarily detailed, thereby satisfying all legal requirements by the board.

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