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Land Plus, L.L.C. v. Mayor and Council of the City of Hackensack

A-1276-07T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2008) (Unpublished)

CONDEMNATION; REDEVELOPMENT — Properties designated as being in need of redevelopment are limited to those that have become stagnant or unproductive due to matters of title, diversity of ownership or similar issues.

A municipality, through its mayor, council, and planning board, designated twenty lots as in need of redevelopment. Property owners owning five of the designated lots challenged the inclusion of four other lots that had been categorized as not being in need of redevelopment but which had been included as part of the twenty under a statutory provision that allowed the inclusion of adjacent properties deemed to be necessary for effective redevelopment in the future. The lower court found that under the New Jersey Supreme Court’s rulings over the constitutionality of redevelopment statutes, the statutory inclusion of property not in need of redevelopment only applied to areas that have become stagnant or unproductive due to matters of title, diversity of ownership or similar issues. Based on the ruling, the lower court found that two lots not in need of redevelopment were improperly included in redevelopment plan.

On appeal, the Appellate Division pointed out that the planning board never identified any issues of title, diversity or similar conditions about the lots in question, but had only found that the lots were vacant and underutilized. It also pointed out that the board never rendered any findings as to whether the condition of the additional lots was detrimental to the community’s safety, health, morals or welfare, which is a necessary condition for being designated for redevelopment. It also noted that the poor aesthetic environment created by the presence of those vacant lots might only have been temporary in nature.


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