Real Property & Environmental Law Alert

Real Property & Environmental Law Alert

Transactional Real Estate, Development/Redevelopment & Environmental Law

Monthly Archives: July 2010

New York Land Use Litigants Beware Injunctive Relief Must Be Sought to Preserve the Status Quo While an Appeal is Pending

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
In Matter of John G. Molloy, et al, the New York Appellate Division, Second Department reminds us that it is critical to preserve the status quo during the pendency of an appeal by moving for a preliminary injunction. Failure to do so resulted in the dismissal of an Article 78 proceeding challenging the grant of a use variance by the Town of Carmel Zoning Board of Appeals to the Putnam Arts Council, a not-for-profit organization, permitting it to operate in a residential zone. Appellants' failure to preserve their rights during appellate review allowed construction of the new arts center to be completed and a certificate of occupancy to be issued thereby resulting in dismissal of the appeal as academic when it was eventually heard by the Appellate Division.… Continue Reading

NJDEP and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – Trial Judge Rejects NJDEP’s Approach to Natural Resource Damages

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
New Jersey's Natural Resource Damage ("NRD") program is cobbled together from an aging policy directive issued in 2003, an Appellate Division decision, NJDEP v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, [393 N.J. Super 388 (App. Div. 2007)] and a handful of lower court rulings on various and sundry motions. There is no specific enabling statute and the agency has never adopted any formal regulations. In short, it's the type of program which is bound to leave the regulators, the regulated community (and the lawyers who advise them) with plenty of questions. Because there are no clear rules, New Jersey's NRD program has generated a significant amount of litigation.… Continue Reading

In the 9th Circuit, Under CERCLA, the Cleanup Hitter or Liable Owner is the One on Deck When the Cleanup Occurs, Not When the Suit is Instituted

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues, Transactional Real Estate & Leasing
Believe it or not, in the 30 years of recorded decisions under CERCLA, the issue of who is an "owner" has not been decided, according to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California v. Hearthside Residential Corp., case number 09-55389 (Decided July 22, 2010).… Continue Reading

When and Who?: New Jersey, U.S. Supreme Courts Grapple With Beachfront “Takings” Issues

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
"Beach nourishment" and "beach restoration" projects, where sand from other locations (often the ocean bottom) is dumped on a beach to retard erosion or to repair its effects, is expensive. It also raises complex issues of fairness and equity about who should pay for the projects and who should be compensated for their negative effects. In two decision handed down in June, the New Jersey and United States Supreme Courts grappled with another often controversial aspect of these projects: when can beachfront owners allege that the project has actually taken their property, triggering the requirement of "just compensation" found in the New Jersey constitution and the Fifth Amendment to the federal constitution?… Continue Reading

United States v. Washington State Department of Transportation – Rains, Drains, and CERCLA Claims

Posted in Construction, Environmental & Green Issues
Judge Robert J. Bryan of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington recently issued two opinions in United States v. Washington State Department of Transportation that could have significant implications on the scope and extent of liability under the Comprehensive, Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA"), 42 U.S.C. §9601 et seq., particularly at urban river sites and harbors. Both decisions examine the liability of the Washington State Department of Transportation ("WSDOT") at the Commencement Bay/Nearshore Tidelands Superfund Site.… Continue Reading

New Jersey Proposes Addition of Solar Power Facilities to its Green Initiative

Posted in Development/Redevelopment, Environmental & Green Issues, Transactional Real Estate & Leasing
Solar and Wind Energy Generation facilities may soon join the category of uses designated as permitted of right by New Jersey statute rather than by individual municipal ordinance, thus preempting municipal zoning powers granted under the Municipal Land Use Law, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1 et seq. (MLUL).… Continue Reading

Tic, TAC, No Dough for Innocent Landowner in NJ Who Sells Property Before Brownfield Grant

Posted in Development/Redevelopment, Environmental & Green Issues
Last year, the Appellate Division in TAC Associates v. NJDEP, 408 N.J. Super. 117 (App. Div. 2009) had held that an applicant under the NJ Brownfield Innocent Party Grant, N.J.S.A. 58:10B-5, need not be a landowner at the time of application for such Grant. In so ruling, the Appellate Division invalidated NJDEP regulations that imposed an ownership requirement, a requirement absent from the underlying statute.… Continue Reading

“Standing” Up for Yourself: Landowner Can Appeal Denial of Use Variance When a Contract Purchaser Filed the Variance Application

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
Agreements for the sale of real property are commonly contingent upon the contract purchaser's obtaining some sort of development approval. If the approval is not granted, the contract purchaser can walk away from the deal. But what if the landowner wants to challenge the denial? Does the landowner have a sufficient interest in the dispute to step into the contract purchaser's shoes? Last month, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court answered in the affirmative. In Campus Associates, L.L.C. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of the Township of Hillsborough, No. A-0690-08T2, -- N.J. Super. -- (App. Div. June 4, 2010), the court held that a landowner can appeal the denial of a use variance that was sought by a contract purchaser, as long as the application depended on property-specific proofs, and not on factors unique to the applicant.… Continue Reading

Sale Leasebacks — New FASB Rules

Posted in Transactional Real Estate & Leasing
FASB has proposed rules that, if enacted, would eliminate the distinction between operating and capital leases. Jonathan Hipp, President and CEO of Calkain Companies, Inc. writes in that the economics of transactions won't change and questions the real impact of the proposed change in accounting rules that will require sale leasebacks to be moved from footnotes to the balance sheet because analysts who follow companies with sale leasebacks "have already baked the operating leases into the debt load of the companies."… Continue Reading

After 15 Years, EPA Wants to Reinstate the Superfund “Polluter Pays” Taxes

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
On June 21, 2010, EPA sent a letter to Congress supporting the reinstatement of the Superfund tax which expired on December 31, 1995. EPA believes that the tax will provide a "stable, dedicated source of revenue . . . and increase the pace of Superfund cleanup." According to EPA, it would also ensure that the parties who manufactured or sold the substances that are being cleaned-up at hazardous waste sites - and not the taxpayers - would bear the cost of cleanup when responsible parties cannot be identified. EPA states that the taxes are needed to ensure that the "polluter pays" for the Superfund program.… Continue Reading

NJ Assembly Gives Affordable Housing Bill a Summer Vacation

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
The Senate Committee Substitute for S-1, which abolishes the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and restructures responsibility for affordable housing policy, was approved by the N.J. Senate on June 3 and sent to the Assembly, where it has come to a stop for the summer. Newsroom NewJersey reports that the COAH bill is among 34 property tax reform-related bills that Assembly Democrats held over the summer in order to analyze them.… Continue Reading

Don’t Paint Yourself in a Corner, Get Certified Now – Dealing with EPA’s Lead Paint Rule

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
A long time in coming, but certainly below the radar screen, is the implementation of the EPA rule issued in 2008 requiring contractors engaged in renovations to be certified in handling lead based paint that may be present in homes, child care facilities and schools built before 1978. Certainly many of the buildings built before that time may well have lead based paint in them since it was not specifically prohibited until that date. However, many manufacturers moved long before 1978 to remove lead from their paint.… Continue Reading

EPA Announces Energy Star Program Available for Data Centers

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
On June 9, 2010, USEPA announced that data centers will be eligible to earn the Energy Star label. The data center must be in the top 25% of its peers in energy efficiency as measured by EPA's energy performance scale, the Power Usage Effectiveness metric. Unlike the Energy Star program for consumer appliances which relies on self-reporting, the Energy Star program for data centers requires a licensed professional to independently verify the energy performance of the building and sign and seal the application document that is sent to EPA for review and approval. Such data centers, which account for approximately 1.5% of electricity consumption, will be able to save money and energy and fight climate change. Moreover, with the increase in demand for "green" vendors by federal, state and local governmental agencies and corporations, a data center with an Energy Star label would have a competitive advantage in seeking such customers.… Continue Reading