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Hudson Essex Passaic Soil Conservation District v. Planning Board of the Borough of North Caldwell

A-3990-06T5 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2009) (Unpublished)

ZONING; GOVERNMENT AGENCIES — A government agency is not immune from a municipality’s zoning ordinances where application of those zoning ordinances would only interfere with expansion of the agency’s offices, but would not interfere with the agency’s ability to conduct its mandated activities.

A public agency maintained its headquarters in an office building that was non-conforming because it did not conform with setback and bulk restrictions. The agency applied for site plan approval and for variances for front footage, lot size, front and side setback, and additional parking spaces. At a conference between the municipal planning board and counsel for the agency, the board raised concerns over the increased building size and increased parking. The agency withdrew its application and brought an action for a declaration that it was immune from the municipality’s zoning ordinances. The lower court noted that the office was staffed by four full-time employees who carried out administrative duties and found that the zoning ordinances did not prevent the agency from carrying out its mandated activities. The lower court also found that the ordinances directly benefitted the local residents by limiting increased traffic and parking. On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s decision and agreed that although the zoning ordinances would have interfered with the expansion of the agency’s administrative office, the ordinances did not interfere with the agency’s ability to conduct its activities.

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