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City of Englewood v. Yang

A-1051-01T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2003) (Unpublished)

EMINENT DOMAIN; REDEVELOPMENT—To include a parcel within a redevelopment plan, a municipality must explain its purpose and show why the particular parcel is necessary to the plan.

A property owner appealed a judgment that declared that a municipality properly exercised its power of eminent domain and appointed commissioners to determine the property’s fair market value. The municipality declared certain properties, including this owner’s property, to be within a blighted area in need of redevelopment. The Appellate Division rejected the owner’s claims that the property was never properly included in redevelopment area. It agreed with the lower court’s determination that the proper procedures were followed. In order for a municipality or redevelopment agency to condemn a particular piece of property for redevelopment, the property must be in a “blighted” area. The municipality must adopt a resolution instructing the planning board to investigate and determine if any areas within the municipality are “blighted.” Then, the municipality must prepare a map containing the boundaries of the were being investigated. After the map is prepared, the planning board must schedule a hearing by public notice to each property owner within the proposed blighted area. Following the hearing, the planning board must adopt a resolution determining if the area is a blighted area. The planning board’s resolution is then forwarded to the municipality’s governing body. If approved, objectors must petition the court within thirty days or the area is deemed to be a blighted area. After the blighted area is determined, the municipality begins the approval process for the redevelopment plan. Here, the Court rejected the owner’s claim that his property was not within the blighted area because his property was not specifically listed in the resolution. It ruled that the municipality is only required to prepare a map and notify the owners of the properties within its boundaries. It is not required to specifically list every affected property in the resolution. The Court did, however, agree that the municipality never demonstrated that the property was necessary for the redevelopment area. It found that the municipality was required, but failed, to explain the purpose of including the property in the redevelopment plan as it matured over years of development and why the property was necessary for the implementation of the development plan.

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