Skip to main content

Deegan v. Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency

374 N.J. Super. 80, 863 A.2d 416 (App. Div. 2005)

REDEVELOPMENT; MLUL—A municipal redevelopment agency acts pursuant to the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law, not the Municipal Land Use Law; therefore, the procedural requirements of the MLUL are not applicable to such an agency.

A local municipality’s governing body determined that a substantial portion of the municipality was in need of redevelopment. It adopted a redevelopment plan and established a redevelopment agency to implement the plan. The redevelopment agency, after hearings, approved a redevelopment contract with a developer. The contract’s opponents argued that the agency’s adopting resolution was invalid because two new members of the agency (who voted for the resolution) did not certify in writing that they had read the transcripts of the prior public meetings as required in the Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL). The MLUL provides that a member of a municipal agency who was absent from one or more of the meetings at which a hearing was held or was not a member of the municipal agency at that time is eligible to vote if he or she reviews the hearing transcript or recording and certifies that he or she had reviewed it.

However, the MLUL defines “municipal agency” to mean a municipal planning board or board of adjustment, or a governing body of a municipality when acting pursuant to MLUL. The lower court held that a municipal redevelopment agency is neither a planning board, a board of adjustment nor a municipal governing body; and a redevelopment agency acts pursuant to the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law (LRHL), not the MLUL. Therefore, the procedural requirements of the MLUL do not apply to a redevelopment agency. The LRHL does not contain a provision comparable to that in the MLUL. In fact, the LRHL does not require any evidentiary hearing or even an opportunity for public comment before a redevelopment agency approves a redevelopment project and enters into an agreement with a developer for construction of the project. The only procedural requirements for a redevelopment agency’s exercise of authority are compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act, which requires that adequate notice be given of the time, date, and location of the meeting at which the proposed action will be considered, and that the meeting be conducted in public.

When a redevelopment agency contracts with a developer to construct a redevelopment project, the developer must apply to the municipal planning board for any land-use approvals required under the MLUL. A planning board’s consideration of such an application is subject to all of the procedural requirements of the MLUL, but the redevelopment agency’s decision to enter into the contract is governed solely by the provisions of the LRHL and the Open Public Meetings Act, which do not require a public hearing.

In addition, the objectors argued that the planning board’s approval of the plan should have been reversed because it did not afford them an adequate opportunity to be heard at the hearing because of the late hour at which public comment was solicited. Specifically, the public-comment portion of the hearing did not begin until 10:45 p.m. and was not concluded until 12:52 a.m. The Court pointed out that four individuals spoke in opposition to the project, and an attorney for one of the objector’s was granted the opportunity to cross-examine pro-plan witnesses for more than one hour. The agency also offered attorneys for other objectors the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, but they declined to do so. Although several objectors left the hearing because of the time, there was no indication that any of them had planned to address the board. Therefore, there was no evidence that any member of the public was deprived of the opportunity to speak in opposition to the plan. Consequently, the Court affirmed both the agency’s approval of the development contract and the planning board’s approval of the redevelopment plan.

66 Park Street • Montclair, New Jersey 07042
tel: 973-783-3000 • fax: 973-744-5757 •