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Clarke v. The Hopewell Township Planning Board

A-4354-06T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2008) (Unpublished)

ZONING; MINOR SUBDIVISIONS — Where a minor subdivision application seeks a line adjustment for two fully conforming lots with no requests for variances or additional development of the properties, the lot owners are not required to present reasons why they wish to make the adjustment.

Two adjoining lot owners submitted a minor subdivision application to a municipal planning board. The application consisted merely of a lot line adjustment between the two parcels. The application acted upon by the board did not involve creating a new lot but only a lot line adjustment. Both lots were to remain fully conforming but for one shed that one landowner agreed to move if the minor subdivision was granted. Therefore, no variances were needed or requested in connection with the application. Additionally, no proposal for development on either parcel was submitted as part of the subdivision application. Both the municipal planner and the engineer testified to the board that they had no opposition to the application.

The record at hearing indicated that nearby residents were concerned about proposed future development on the lots. The board voted unanimously to approve the application. A nearby landowner filed suit challenging the board’s action, but the lower court affirmed the board’s decision.

The landowner appealed, but the Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s ruling. In the appeal, the landowner alleged that the board lacked jurisdiction to grant the application because the lot owners did not present reasons to the board why they wished to make the lot line adjustment. The Board was satisfied that on the record no reason had to be given. The Court was mindful that the application sought a line adjustment for two fully conforming lots with no requests for variances or additional development of the properties. It held that the lower court properly noted that if and when any application for site approval for development of the lots was submitted there would be ample opportunity at that time for objectors to raise their concerns.

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