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Julika, Inc. v. Surati

A-246-02T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2003) (Unpublished)

ZONING; NOTICE—Not every proposed off-tract improvement requires notice to property owners within 200 feet of the improvement.

A developer sought to build a hotel and needed site plan approval and some bulk variance relief. It notified all property owners within 200 feet of the hotel site. During the course of the planning board hearings, the applicant proposed modifying an intersection about 180 feet away from the hotel site. The police pointed out that trucks making right-hand turns at that intersection tended to drive into the opposing lane of traffic. Since the developer owned the land necessary to modify the intersection, “he was willing to do the work rather than contribute money to the County so that it could perform the” radius modification through the intersection. No notice was given to property owners within 200 feet of the “off-tract intersection.” After the approval was granted, a neighbor filed suit asserting that it should have received notice of the off-tract improvement. New Jersey case law previously dealt with “an applicant who had proposed a substantial development of residential condominiums and townhouses” and who was required to “give notice to property owners within 200 feet of a property” that it did not own but was to be used by the applicant “as a secondary access road to the development.” In that earlier case, the roadway was held “to be part of the ‘property’ that [was] the subject of [the development proposal].” Here, however, the Court distinguished between off-site construction, as was the case with the road needed by the developer in that earlier case, with the off-tract construction. It felt that the “modification of the off-tract intersection [was] minor and [would be] performed solely on property that [the developer] happen[ed] to own.” The objector offered no evidence that the modification would have any adverse effects. Further, the Court applied “common sense” to reject the notice for argument because it felt that there was “no possibility that property owners near this intersection would be significantly affected.” It did not rule that every circumstance of off-tract improvements would be exempt from the notice provisions under the Municipal Land Use Law.

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