Skip to main content



Cornell Heights Association v. Hamilton Township Planning Board

A-5597-04T5 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2006) (Unpublished)

ZONING; HEARINGS —With respect to a land use board hearing, the applicable statute provides the right of cross-examination to all interested parties through their attorneys, if represented, or directly, if not represented, subject to the direction of the presiding officer and subject to reasonable limitations as to time and number of witnesses.

A municipal planning board considered a final site plan application. There was a lengthy hearing at which forty-one members of the public “were permitted to testify and raise questions.” At the beginning of the meeting, a procedure was announced whereby the questions from the public were to be “posed by either the Chairman of the Board or the attorney for [the applicant].” The objectors claimed that this was fundamentally unfair and prejudiced their ability to participate in the hearing. The lower court disagreed and an appeal followed.

In the appeal, the Appellate Division pointed out that the applicable statute “provides the right of cross-examination ‘to all interested parties through their attorneys, if represented, or directly, if not represented, subject to the direction of the presiding officer and to reasonable limitations as to time and number of witnesses.’” Here, although the Court realized that the “practice employed in this [particular] hearing [might not have been] the practice envisioned by the Legislature, [it saw] no basis for disturbing the decisions below.” It took particular note that there were a large number of interested parties who wanted to testify and pose questions, “and there was a need for an orderly and efficient hearing.” Further, there were only a few issues to be considered in this particular application which was “for approval of a conforming site plan.” All questions were posed but for one that was addressed in a report prepared by the Fire Captain. Consequently, the Court saw “no abuse of the presiding officer’s discretion to set reasonable limitations on the testimony or cross-examination and no prejudicial impact on [the objector’s] legitimate rights or interests.


MEISLIK & MEISLIK
66 Park Street • Montclair, New Jersey 07042
tel: 973-783-3000 • fax: 973-744-5757 • info@meislik.com