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Washington Shopping Center, Inc. v. Township of Washington Land Use Board

L-536-07 (N.J. Super. Law Div. 2008) (Unpublished)

ZONING; JURISDICTION — Once an action is brought challenging the decision of a land use board, the board loses jurisdiction over the matter unless and until it is remanded.

A developer received preliminary site plan approval from a municipal land use board to build a supermarket. The land use board allowed the developer to perform site-work and to obtain a building permit after meeting all of the conditions in its preliminary site plan approval. A nearby shopping center brought an action challenging parts of the preliminary site plan approval and also to protest the site-work that the developer started before it got its approvals. While the action was pending, the land use board granted final approval to the developer and construction began.

In the course of the proceedings, the Court pointed out that once an action is brought challenging the decision of a municipal board, the board loses jurisdiction over the matter unless and until it is remanded. It added that there was an exception for cases where a board could settle the matter with an applicant and allow a new or an amended plan to be presented and be heard at a public hearing. The Court found that none of the exceptions existed and that the land use board lacked jurisdiction to give the developer its final approval. The final approval was declared null and void and all building permits that were issued as a result of the final approval were rescinded. The Court noted that developer could still continue its site-work in accordance with the preliminary site plan approval.


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