Notable Cases And Decisions

State of New Jersey v. 56 Route 22 Realty LLC – UNN-L-501-18 (June 23, 2021)
An order of Final Judgment was entered by the Superior Court by the Honorable Dara Aquila Govan, J.S.C. in the amount of $975,000 in favor of the defendant 56 Route 22 Realty LLC.

The defendant Route 22 Nissan, a large new car dealership, is located on Rt. 22 Eastbound, Hillside, New Jersey. The Department of Transportation filed a complaint on February 7, 2018 to acquire a portion of defendant’s frontage on Rt. 22 and the ramp leading from Rt. 22 Eastbound to Broadway. The taking was for the widening of Route 22 and replacement of the adjacent ramp. The taking resulted in the loss of 27 front parking spaces along Route 22 and the ramp. The plaintiff, New Jersey Department of Transportation, initially offered the sum of $349,000, based on its appraisal, representing its estimate of the value of the taking and damages to the remainder. The property owner’s appraisal was in the amount of $1,200,000.

Livingston v. Zheng Yuan International Flagship School LLC – ESX-L-7391-19 (August 3, 2021)

A company whose land was taken by the Township of Livingston has agreed to a settlement of $3,190,000, an amount $1,000,000 greater than the initial offer.

The land was acquired by the Township for a new Department of Public Works site. The defendants had acquired the 8.48 acre site with intentions to build a school for international students. The property was condemned on October 19, 2019 and an initial estimate of compensation, based on the township’s appraisal, was deposited in the Superior Court in the amount of $2,190,000. After a commissioner’s hearing was held on November 9, 2019, and an award was rendered in the amount of $3,852,000, both sides appealed to the Superior Court Law Division. Settlement discussions resulted in an agreement to settle for the sum of $3,190,000, which was $1,000,000 more than the amount of the initial deposit. The settlement was approved by the Livingston Township Council on August 9, 2021.

Prospect Street Neighbors Association, LLC v. Glen Park Village LLC and Zoning board of Adjustment of the Borough of Glen Rock
Appellate Division, August, 2019.
A complaint in lieu of prerogative writs was filed on behalf of plaintiff Prospect Street Neighbors LLC by Carlin, Ward, Ash & Heiart LLC.  The plaintiff sought judgment invalidating the action of the Glen Rock Zoning Board of Adjustment, which granted use variance, height variance and density variance to defendant Glen Park Village LLC under a bifurcated application for development of certain property within the Borough of Glen Rock, New Jersey. Bergen County  Superior Court Judge Gregg A. Padavano, J.S.C.,  found that the plaintiff satisfied its burden on proof that the action of the board in approving the variances under the bifurcated application was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable, thereby the board’s approval of the Glen Park’s bifurcated application for development was reversed and vacated.  Download the order and opinion of the court here.

106 Somerset, LLC v. City of Garfield and Zion Lutheran Church, et al. v. City of Garfield
Appellate Division, September 7, 2018.
Consolidated plaintiffs filed an action in lieu of prerogative writs challenging the City of Garfield’s classification designating their properties as an area in need of redevelopment. Carlin, Ward, Ash & Heiart LLC represented Zion Lutheran Church, et al. The trial was held on September 6, 2018, in New Jersey Superior Court, Bergen County. Christine A. Farrington, J.S.C., was the presiding judge. The court vacated the designation of the First Ward Study Area as being a Condemnation Redevelopment Area under the Local Redevelopment Housing Law (LRHL). The decision in the case was issued on September 7, 2018. To read the decision, click here.

New Jersey Transit Corporation v. AMB Institutional Alliance Fund II (A-5586-06T2)
Appellate Division, May 18, 2009.
The Appellate Division affirmed the jury verdict and upheld the trial court’s rulings regarding compensability of loss of parking and access. Download a PDF of the New Jersey Transit opinion here.

Iron Mountain Information Management, Inc. v. City of Newark et al (A-6561-06)
Appellate Division, March 13, 2009 – Approved for publication
Commercial tenants are not entitled to notice provisions of the Local Redevelopment Housing Law, but may raise blight issues as a defense to eminent domain in the condemnation case. Download the PDF of the Iron Mountain opinion here . See March 28 post on the New Jersey Eminent Domain Law Blog for more discussion of the Iron Mountain opinion.

CB Management LLC, Frances and John Metta et als, and Gaisers European Style Provisions, Inc. v. Township of Union (UNN-L-403-07; 402-07; 421-07)
Law Division, October 16, 2008, on Motion for Summary Judgment
The court rejected Union’s attempt to find the area located at the intersection of Stuyvesant and Morris Avenues to be an area in need of redevelopment. The court identified a misapplication of the law by the Planning Board based on the erroneous advice of counsel, which was misleading in its use of the term “blighted area.” The court concluded,”not only were the legal instructions (to the Planning Board) erroneous, to make matters worse, they clearly influenced the Board’s decision.” Download the PDF of the transcript of Assignment Judge Walter R. Barisonek’s oral opinion here. See blog post on the New Jersey Eminent Domain Law Blog for more discussion of the Union matter.

City of Long Branch v. Anzalone
Appellate Division, August 7, 2008
The Appellate Division reversed in part and remanded this case to the trial court. The court found that the Long Branch did not find actual blight under any subsection of N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-5, that the record lacked substantial evidence that could have supported the New Jersey Constitution’s standard for finding blight, and that the absence of substantial evidence of blight compels reversal. Download the PDF of the Anzalone opinion here . See August 7 post on the New Jersey Eminent Domain Law Blog for more discussion of the Anzalone eminent domain case.

Appellate Division, November 6, 2006
The Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court granted the request of property owners Louis and Lillian Anzalone for a stay of the eminent domain action threatened against their home located at 32 Ocean Avenue, Long Branch, New Jersey. The Order for Stay, signed by presiding judge Jack L. Lintner, will prevent Long Branch from seizing the Anzalone property while the appeal is pending. The City of Long Branch also filed a motion to accelerate the appeal. That motion was denied. Download both orders of the court.

Township of Bloomfield v. 110 Washington Street
Appellate Division (per curiam), 5 pages, August 29, 2006
The court upheld the August 3, 2005 decision of Essex County Assignment Judge Patricia Costello, who dismissed the condemnation complaint and concluded that the record lacked adequate basis for finding that the use of defendant’s property posed a detriment to the public health, safety or welfare, or was underutilized. Click here to read the entire decision. For further commentary on the decision please visit the New Jersey Eminent Domain Law Blog.

City of Long Branch v. Gregory P. Bower et al
New Jersey Superior Court (Lawrence Lawson, A.J.S.C.), 60 pages, June 26, 2006
The court heard oral arguments on March 24 and reserved decision. The court decided to deny the application of the defendants for a hearing on the right to take issue, and issued final judgement in favor of the plaintiff, City of Long Branch, and will appoint condemnation commissioners. Since the decision is a final judgement, it is appealable within 45 days. For further commentary see the New Jersey Eminent Domain Law Blog post of June 23, 2006.

Township of Bloomfield v. 110 Washington Street Associates
New Jersey Superior Court (Patricia Costello, A.J.S.C.), 13 pages, August 3, 2005
The court found that the underlying planning process was fatally flawed. The Heyer and Gruel Planning Report improperly designated 110 Washington Street as meeting the definitions of blighted property under the Local Redevelopment Housing Law. In addition, the court ruled that it was improper for attorney Steven Martino to represent both the planning board and the mayor and council during the consideration of the redevelopment plan and the approval of the plan by the municipality.To read the decision in PDF click here. For further commentary about this case, please read the NJ Eminent Domain Law Blog post of August 5, 2005.

City of Long Branch v. Strahlendorf, et ux, etc.
Appellate Division (per curiam), 10 pages, November 19, 2004.
The City of Long Branch did not file its appeal from the date of the order of final judgement until over 100 days after the final judgement was entered. The panel dismissed the appeal as untimely, as the notice of appeal was clearly filed beyond the 75 days permitted by rule, and time was not tolled in the interval. The jury determined that the defendants were entitled to $500,000 in just compensation for the City’s acquisition of their property. To read the decision of the Appellate Division in PDF file, click here.

City of Linden, etc. v. Benedict Motel Corp, etc., et al

Appellate Division (Carchman, J.A.D.), 34 pages, February 11, 2004.

Eminent Domain – The City of Linden condemned land in front of the Benedict Motel on Route 1 and 9, thus eliminating 15 parking spaces that existed on the property. The panel upheld the ruling of the trial judge that the spaces were lawfully created and properly utilized and that the motel was entitled to compensation for damages to the remainder. The verdict of the jury was two million dollars. To read the decision of the Appellate Division in PDF file, click here.

Supreme Court of New Jersey, May 21, 2004.
The Petition for Certification by the plaintiff, City of Linden, was denied.
Housing Authority Of The City Of New Brunswick V. Sudyam Investors, L.L.C. , July 10, 2003

Contaminated property that is the subject of condemnation must be valued as if it has been remediated, and the condemnor should reserve the right to maintain a separate cost-recovery action to obtain remediation or cleanup costs. The value of the condemnation award should be deposited into a trust-escrow account with the court, and the condemnor may seek and order requiring that a portion of the award be set aside to satisfy the condemnee’s cleanup and transfer obligations.