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Skyhil Corporation v. Zoning Board of the Township of Randolph

A-2228-01T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2003) (Unpublished)

ZONING—A court cannot substitute its judgment for that of a land use board, being limited to determining if the board’s action was unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious.

An owner of a catering hall sought variance approval to construct a hotel on its property alongside a highway and near a residential neighborhood. The owner argued that the proposed hotel was an expansion of its current non-conforming use as opposed to a new non-conforming use. The board voted in favor of the project by a 4-3 vote. However, since a supermajority was required, the minimum vote needed to approve the application was 5-2. The application was deemed denied. The lower court reviewed the board’s reasoning. It disagreed with several of its reasons for the board’s rejection of the application and articulated reasons for approving it. It remanded the matter back to the board for further hearings. The board again rejected the application. The Appellate Division, reversed the lower court, noting that a lower court cannot substitute its judgment for that of a board. Unless the board’s decision is arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable it must be upheld. The Court found ample evidence to support the board’s rejection of the application in the first place. It found that, in ordering the remand, the lower court improperly substituted its judgment for that of the board.

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