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Jersey Urban Renewal, LLC v. City of Asbury Park

377 N.J. Super. 232, 872 A.2d 137 (App. Div. 2005)

ZONING; LAND USE; REDEVELOPMENT —The New Jersey Local Redevelopment Law does not violate a planning board’s statutory authority to approve site plan applications just because it may impose certain limits on what a proeprty owner may do with its property located within an area in need of redevelopment.

A property owner owned a dilapidated apartment building which it sought to renovate. The apartment building was located in a zone governed by the municipality’s waterfront development plan. It was also subject to a redevelopment and land disposition contract between the municipality and a master developer for all property within the redevelopment zone. The property owner applied to the municipal planning board for site-plan approval of its proposed building renovations. The municipality and master developer objected to the application on the basis that the property owner had not met certain requirements under the redevelopment plan prior to applying for site-plan approval. Under the plan, the master developer was designated as the sole redevelopment entity, and therefore was the only entity permitted to perform certain improvements within the redevelopment zone. As such, all property owners within the area seeking to renovate their properties had to first receive “subsequent developer status” from the master developer and permission from certain municipal agencies before applying for site-plan approval. The property owner obtained neither and did not meet the other requirements before submitting its site-plan application. As a result, the planning board denied the application. The property owner challenged the planning board’s determination in court. In response, the municipality moved for summary judgment, which was granted by the lower court. The property owner appealed.

The Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s ruling. In its appeal, the property owner asserted that its property was not subject to the requirements of the municipality’s redevelopment plan because it was not seeking to renovate the property as a redevelopment project. The Court rejected this argument, holding that the use and development of all property located within the waterfront redevelopment zone was governed by the redevelopment plan. The property owner also contended that the redevelopment plan’s requirements were contrary to the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL) because it intruded upon the planning board’s statutory jurisdiction over site-plans. It further asserted that the municipality exceeded its authority under the New Jersey Local Redevelopment Law (LRHL) by implementing the redevelopment plan. The Court ruled that the plan did not intrude upon the planning board’s statutory authority because the board still had the power to approve site-plan applications. It further held that the municipality did not exceed its authority under LRHL, because the LRHL grants municipalities the right to designate certain areas as being in need of redevelopment and adopt redevelopment plans. In addition, the LRHL grants municipalities the authority to appoint a redevelopment agency to implement a redevelopment plan. Accordingly, the Court held that all of the actions of the municipality were fully authorized under the LRHL.


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