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Rukh Enterprises, Inc. v. Planning Board of the Township of Edison

A-4802-03T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2005) (Unpublished)

ZONING; PROCEDURE—By failing to consent to an extension within which a land use board can act upon an application, the applicant may force the land use board to act on insufficient evidence and risks a disapproval.

A landowner challenged a municipal planning board’s denial of his application for site plan approval. The board’s denial was based solely on the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) plan to take a portion of the property. That would have affected its parking design and safety. Additionally, the board claimed a lack of sufficient information to consider the application because the landowner-applicant refused to consent to a thirty-day delay, arguing that the landowner’s refusal forced it to vote based on the information it had and that without a vote the application would have received automatic statutory approval.

The Appellate Division held that by failing to consent to an extension, the landowner assumed the risk of a disapproval of its application based on insufficient evidence. Absent an applicant’s consent to an extension of time, New Jersey law requires a board to act on a complete application within a given period to time, but does not require an approving vote based on inadequate evidence. Thus, the Court held that the board did not improperly withhold approval of the landowner’s application since by failing to consent to a time extension, the landowner forced the board to discharge its requirement to adequately assess the adequacy of the his site plan. Therefore, it was not arbitrary or unreasonable for the Board to deny the application since it was not fully aware of the effect that an impending taking by the DOT would have on the landowner’s property.


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