Real Property & Environmental Law Alert

Real Property & Environmental Law Alert

Transactional Real Estate, Development/Redevelopment & Environmental Law

Tag Archives: New Jersey

Governor Christie Vetoes Offshore Wind Bill

Posted in Development/Redevelopment, Environmental & Green Issues
Recently, Governor Christie vetoed legislation designed to allow additional applications for offshore wind projects seeking approval from state regulators. The now-defunct bill, S988, sponsored by Senators Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) and Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic), sought to allow the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (“BPU”) to open a 30-day period for the submission of offshore wind project applications. More specifically, the bill would have allowed BPU to accept and approve “a qualified wind energy project that is located in territorial waters offshore of [a] municipality in which casino gaming is authorized,” i.e. a wind project offshore from Atlantic City.… Continue Reading

Appellate Division Grants Leave to Appeal to Affordable Housing Decision, While Trial Courts Continue Towards Trial and Compliance Hearings

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
On April 11, 2016, the Appellate Division issued an order granting a motion by the Township of Barnegat for leave to appeal a decision by the Hon. Mark A. Troncone, J.S.C., designated Mt. Laurel judge for Ocean County, and also granted a number of motions for other municipalities from outside of Ocean County to appear as amici curiae in the case. The order returns the question of methodology – a hotly contested issue – to the Appellate Division. The counties comprising Region 4 (Mercer, Monmouth, and Ocean counties) of the Council on Affordable Housing (“COAH”) were set to be among the first to hold trials regarding the methodology for determining the municipal fair share housing obligations of municipalities. The grant of leave to appeal in the Ocean County case will necessarily delay any trial in that vicinage until the resolution of the appeal. This post briefly reviews the trial court’s decision, and the potential impact the decision to grant leave to appeal may have on pending declaratory judgment cases.… Continue Reading

Remedial Investigation Deadline Looms for New Jersey Contaminated Sites

Posted in Development/Redevelopment, Environmental & Green Issues
In less than three weeks, the statutory deadline to complete a site-wide remedial investigation (“RI”) for many contaminated sites in New Jersey will pass. Any site for which an RI has not been completed will be subject to direct oversight of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”), which would come with additional costs, less control over the remediation, and other burdens for responsible parties. Accordingly, responsible parties and their Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (“LSRPs”) should do everything in their power to complete an RI by the statutory deadline: May 7, 2016.… Continue Reading

Howard Geneslaw and Jason Tuvel to Speak at the 2016 Land Use Update

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
Howard D. Geneslaw, a Director in the firm’s Real Property & Environmental Department and Vice Chair of the Land Use Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association, will be participating, both as a moderator and speaker, at the upcoming 2016 Land Use Update on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 in West Orange, New Jersey. Jason R. Tuvel, also a Director in the firm’s Real Property & Environmental Department and a Director of the Land Use Section, will be speaking when the same program is presented next month on March 16, 2016 in Mount Laurel, New Jersey.… Continue Reading

NJ High Court Clarifies Standard for Revocation of Direct Access to State Highway from Commercial Property

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
In its recent decision in In Re Revocation of the Access of Block #613, the New Jersey Supreme Court clarified the standard governing the revocation of direct access from a State highway to a property used for commercial purposes under the State Highway Access Management Act and the State Highway Access Management Code. The case outlines the requisite procedure for revocation of a commercial property's direct access to a State highway by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT).… Continue Reading

No Further Extensions of New Jersey’s Permit Extension Act

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
The state legislature took no action to further extend New Jersey’s Permit Extension Act (“PEA”) during the recently concluded legislative session, which means that permits and approvals extended by the PEA’s tolling period either have expired or will expire soon. Pursuant to the terms of the act, the expiration date for most approvals covered by the PEA are tolled through June 30, 2016, with certain approvals expiring before that date, making right now the time to evaluate projects approaching construction to determine which existing approvals were extended by the PEA, the exact expiration date of such approvals, and whether further extensions are available under other laws. After such an evaluation, developers and project managers can then determine whether approval rights can be fully vested prior to their expiration date and, if not, whether an extension, amendment, or renewal of the approval is required.… Continue Reading

NJ Legislature Considers Invalidating NJDEP Regulations

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
On June 1, 2015, after significant outreach to the relevant stakeholders, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) released for public comment sweeping proposed changes to the rules governing Coastal Zone Management (CZM), N.J.A.C. 7:7E-1.1 et seq., Stormwater Management (SWM), N.J.A.C. 7:8-1.1 et seq., and the Flood Hazard Area Control Act (FHACA), N.J.A.C. 7:13-1.1 et seq. However, the New Jersey Legislature is poised to use its constitutional authority to find that the proposed regulations are inconsistent with the legislative intent of the enabling statutes.… Continue Reading

New Jersey Appellate Court Rules Redeveloper Cannot Compel Amendments to Redevelopment Plan

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
Redevelopment agreements are the tool used to memorialize the respective obligations of the redeveloper and the municipality to effectuate a redevelopment project. Often, a concept plan has been agreed upon, but changes to the site-specific zoning embodied in the redevelopment plan are necessary in order for the project to advance. In an unpublished decision earlier this year, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, ruled in Fieldstone Associates, L.P. v. Borough of Merchantville, A-1239-13T3, that the municipality cannot be contractually compelled to adopt such amendments.… Continue Reading

No Safe Harbor: State Can Face Liability Under Spill Act

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
Be careful what you wish for. That may be the message of the Appellate Division’s September 23 opinion in NL Industries, Inc. v. State of New Jersey, No. A-0869-14T3. Affirming a “thoughtful and erudite” 2014 Law Division opinion by Judge Douglas K. Wolfson, the appellate court held that the onerous liability regime of the 1976 Spill Compensation and Control Act (commonly known as the Spill Act), which imposes strict, joint, and several liability for cleanups on both the dischargers of hazardous substances and on the much broader class of parties “in any way responsible” for the hazardous substances, is equally applicable to the State. As a result, the State may be responsible for a portion of the remediation of a contaminated site on the shoreline of Raritan Bay that will likely cost more than $75 million.… Continue Reading

New Jersey Tax Court Alarms Nonprofits in the Morristown Memorial Hospital Case

Posted in Real Estate
In a detailed and closely-watched decision issued on June 25, 2015, Judge Vito Bianco, a New Jersey Tax Court judge sitting in Morristown, denied a property tax appeal of Morristown Memorial Hospital. This case, AHS Hospital Corp., d/b/a Morristown Memorial Hospital v. Town of Morristown, has received great attention in the press for good reason. By holding that a nonprofit hospital is not exempt from paying real estate taxes, the implication is that many hospitals could face this fate as well. For municipalities, this will be welcome news, but for hospitals – and, potentially, other nonprofits – this is a very unwelcome result.… Continue Reading

New Jersey Supreme Court Decides 62-64 Main Street, L.L.C. v. City of Hackensack, Clarifies Definition of “Blight” in Context of Redevelopment

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
On March 23, 2015, in 62-64 Main Street, L.L.C. v. City of Hackensack, the New Jersey Supreme Court determined that property does not need to have a negative effect on surrounding properties in order to be deemed “blighted.” Prior to the Court’s decision in this case, it was unclear whether a negative effect on surrounding properties was a prerequisite to a finding of blight, or simply one way to establish it. Because the New Jersey constitution allows municipalities to exercise their powers of eminent domain to redevelop blighted property, the Court’s decision could encourage more municipalities to move forward with the condemnation of property for private redevelopment.… Continue Reading

Gibbons Advises New Jersey Future 2015 Smart Growth Award Winners

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
New Jersey Future, a non-profit, non-partisan organization focused on the promotion of responsible land use policies, has named the Military Park renovation in Newark and 18 Park in Jersey City as two of its 2015 Smart Growth honorees. Gibbons P.C. played a significant role in both of these projects. The awards were given out on Thursday, June 4 at the annual awards gala.… Continue Reading

New Jersey Supreme Court Appoints Trial Court the Venue for Affordable Housing Disputes

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a green light to developers and other interested parties to eventually pursue builders’ remedy actions in New Jersey Superior Court. The decision is the latest in a battle over affordable housing that has been in and out of the courts since the Mount Laurel decision in 1975. Most recently, in September 2013, the Supreme Court overturned the Council on Affordable Housing’s (“COAH”) latest attempt at adopting affordable housing regulations and ordered COAH to adopt new regulations within five months. That period was eventually extended to November 2014. COAH, however, did not adopt new regulations. Its inaction prompted a motion in aid of litigants’ rights, whereby parties to the prior action sought to break the bureaucratic logjam. Last week’s decision, designating trial courts as the venue for affordable housing disputes, is the New Jersey Supreme Court’s solution to the logjam.… Continue Reading

Howard Geneslaw and Jason Tuvel to Speak at the 2015 Land Use Update

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
Howard D. Geneslaw, a Director in the firm’s Real Property & Environmental Department and Secretary of the Land Use Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association, will be participating, as both a moderator and speaker, at the upcoming 2015 Land Use Update on Wednesday February 25, 2015 in West Orange, New Jersey. Jason R. Tuvel, also a Director in the Gibbons Real Property & Environmental Department, will be a speaking when the same program is presented next month at the Legal Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey on March 18, 2015.… Continue Reading

No Specific Waiver, No Arbitration: Enforceability of Arbitration Provisions in New Jersey Real Estate Contracts in Doubt Following Dispenziere v. Kushner Cos.

Posted in Development/Redevelopment, Real Estate, Transactional Real Estate & Leasing
Companies doing business in New Jersey and accustomed to settling contract disputes through binding arbitration should carefully review their contracts - and carefully draft all future contracts - to ensure that each arbitration provision contains clear and unambiguous language that the parties are waiving their rights to sue in court. An arbitration clause stating that all disputes will be determined through binding arbitration, but failing to contain this explicit waiver, may not be enforceable in accordance with the recent holding by the Appellate Division in Dispenziere v. Kushner Cos.… Continue Reading

Highlands Council Schedules Stakeholder Outreach Workshops and Will Accept Written Comments

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
The New Jersey Highlands Council has scheduled three Stakeholder Outreach Workshops to solicit public input on the Highlands Regional Master Plan (RMP) as part of its RMP Monitoring Program. According to public notices issued by the Highlands Council, the workshops are intended to provide members of the public with an opportunity to learn more about the monitoring program and to provide input. The notices also state, “[t]he Monitoring Program evaluates progress toward achieving the goals of the Highlands Regional Master Plan,” and “[t]he program requires identification of indicators and milestones to measure the impact of the Regional Master Plan on water resources, agriculture, housing, transportation, and economic development within the Highlands Region.”… Continue Reading

Tolling of Approvals Under New Jersey’s Permit Extension Act: Will The End Of The Year Be The End Of The Line? Approved Projects Could Be At Risk

Posted in Development/Redevelopment
New Jersey's Permit Extension Act (“PEA”) was initially enacted in 2008 — in response to “the crisis in the real estate finance sector of the economy” — for the purpose of tolling, through the end of 2012, expiration of various approvals necessary for development. It was later extended, in 2012, due to the then “current national recession,” to extend the tolling of the expiration of those approvals until December 31, 2014. Unless the Legislature approves a further extension, the PEA will sunset at the end of this year, and that could pose a problem for projects which have not yet started construction, because their approvals may expire.… Continue Reading

Turnpike Authority is Not a “Local Government Unit”: Tax Court

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
All politics, the saying goes, is local. Not so with government, according to a recent decision from New Jersey’s Tax Court. In an opinion that teaches more about legislative drafting than it does about tax policy, the court in New Jersey Turnpike Authority v. Township of Monroe parsed a complex definition of “local government unit” in the Garden State Preservation Trust Act (GSPTA). It held that the New Jersey Turnpike Authority did not come within that definition, and thus could not claim that status to obtain an exemption from roll-back taxes on a parcel it purchased in 2009.… Continue Reading

District of New Jersey Decision Highlights Procedural and Evidentiary Complexities Unique to the State’s Environmental Litigants

Posted in Environmental & Green Issues
In Leese v. Lockheed Martin Corp., one of the New Jersey’s foremost environmental jurists, the Honorable Jerome B. Simandle, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, authored a comprehensive opinion explaining why several plaintiffs who alleged harm caused by contamination on their properties were without recourse under a number of state and federal environmental laws. In so doing, the Chief Judge highlighted the procedural and evidentiary complexities unique to environmental litigants.… Continue Reading

New Jersey Supreme Court Adopts O’Brien Factors For Determining When Real Estate Transactions Constitute an Equitable Mortgage

Posted in Transactional Real Estate & Leasing
Founded on the principle that equity looks to substance over form, courts will find an equitable mortgage to exist when a deed or contract, while lacking the characteristics of a typical mortgage, is used to pledge an interest in real property as security for a debt with the intention of acting as a mortgage. On September 9, 2014 in Zaman v. Felton, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided that when determining whether a particular transaction gives rise to an equitable mortgage, a trial court must utilize the eight factor test set forth by the Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey in O’Brien v. Cleveland. … Continue Reading