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In Re Application of John Markovitch v. New Jersey Meadowlands Commission

A-1169-06T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2008) (Unpublished)

ZONING; REGIONAL COMMISSION; PERMITTED USE — A regional commission’s land use decisions are not to be overruled unless the commission misapplies the law to the facts or fails to base its decision on the evidence in the record.

A construction company sought permission from a development commission to construct a building on the company’s property. The building was intended to house the company’s construction equipment. The commission found that the company’s primary use of the property was to be as a contractor’s yard and this was not a permitted use under applicable zoning regulations. The property was zoned for limited industrial purposes such as warehouse and distribution activities. The commission also ruled that the company needed a use variance to use the property as a contractor’s yard. The company appealed the commission’s decision, arguing that it should have received an evidentiary hearing.

The Appellate Division noted that decisions of state agencies, such as the commission, were not to be overruled unless the agency misapplied the law to the facts or failed to base its decision on the evidence in the record. It also noted that agency decisions receive a presumption of reasonableness because agencies are considered to be intimately familiar with local areas and the rules that it adopts for such areas. Here, the commission had found that the company’s primary activities were those of a construction yard and not those of a warehouse facility. It noted, however, that the proposed building was intended to function as storage space for the company’s heavy equipment but such a use would not have been the primary use of the property. The Court agreed with, and deferred to, the commission’s interpretations of warehouse activities and activities that take place on a contractor’s yard. Further, it found that the commission properly investigated the matter. Thus, it affirmed the board’s decision.

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