A Superior Court judge voided Bloomfield’s attempted condemnation of commercial property, near a rail line to Manhattan, for which developers planned a condominium complex….Assignment Judge Patricia Costello found that the township’s designation of the site as “blighted” did not comport with the state Local Redevelopment Housing Law. “The record in this case is devoid of any finding that the property is detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare,” as the statute requires, Costello said…
Bloomfield had argued that the opponents should be barred from challenging the township’s underlying basis for condemnation because of earlier rulings in the case. Superior Court Judge Claude Coleman dismissed actions in lieu of prerogative writ brought by the same challengers and by four other Bloomfield property owners contesting blight designations, finding each time-barred. But Costello found that Coleman’s rulings never got into the property owners’ substantive claims.
The challengers’ lawyer, William Ward, says Coleman made the wrong call. “If the prerogative writ suit were allowed to go forward with limited discovery and a hearing on the record, the plaintiffs could establish, through sworn testimony, the facts necessary to throw out the municipal action,” says Ward, of Florham Park’s Carlin, Ward, Ash & Heiart LLC.
Ward’s partner and co-counsel, James Turteltaub, says Costello’s ruling is fair. “We’re very pleased for our client that the court listened to their argument and made a sound decision which vindicated the property owners’ rights,” he says. – By Lisa Brennan