Yesterday, the New Jersey State Assembly unanimously approved legislation that codifies important redevelopment case-law, and provides municipalities with an option to undertake local redevelopment projects without using eminent domain. The bill, A-3615, sponsored by Assemblymen Coutinho, Bucco and Munoz, has a Senate companion, S-2447, and shares some of the provisions which had been included in earlier legislative efforts that failed to pass two years ago.
A-3615 codifies Gallenthin Realty Development Inc. v. Paulsboro, 191 N.J. 344 (2007), in which the New Jersey Supreme Court scrutinized the then-common use of municipalities in New Jersey of a standard in the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law, N.J.SA. 40A:12A-5(e) — a “stagnant or not fully productive condition” to justify that an area was blighted, or “in need of redevelopment”. The legislation also codifies Harrison Redevelopment Agency v. DeRose, 398 N.J. Super. 361 (App. Div. 2008), in which an appeals court held adequate written notice of condemnation for redevelopment needs to be provided during the redevelopment planning process.
The other significant provision in this legislation is that local governments will be given an option as to whether they will be empowered to use eminent domain to acquire properties in redevelopment areas. If signed into law, this bill could help to spur redevelopment in certain areas without having to threaten the property rights of the existing owners.
Stay tuned for more on this legislative development.
McKirdy & Riskin’s Rich DeAngelis, Ed McKirdy and Tony DellaPelle served as counsel to the property owners in the DeRose case referenced above. In addition, DellaPelle serves on the Redevelopment Committee of the New Jersey Builders’ Association, which was a proponent of the current legislation.