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Pita v. City of Newark

A-698-97T5 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1998) (Unpublished)

PROPERTY TAXES; ABATEMENT—In reviewing applications for tax abatements available to residential home buyers in urban redevelopment projects, a municipality does not have discretion to grant or withhold abatements for reasons not set forth or implied in the enabling legislation.

A municipality denied an application for tax abatement under N.J.S. 54:4-3.139 et seq. because the applicant’s property was in violation of the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code. This is the law that makes tax abatements available to residential buyers in certain redevelopment zones. It appears that the municipality also denied the tax abatement on the grounds that the application contained material misrepresentations of fact. The Court, however, ruled that municipalities do not have discretion to grant or withhold tax abatements on an ad hoc basis for reasons which are not set forth “expressly or by fair implication in the enabling legislation or implementing ordinance,” and that this particular municipality’s ordinance did not authorize denial of a tax abatement based on the violation of the Uniform Construction Code. In addition, a municipality cannot defend its denial of tax abatement applications based solely upon conclusionary allegations of fraud which are not supported by any evidence in the record.


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