Category: Development/Redevelopment

NJDEP Announces Change to Remediation Standards for Certain Contaminants

NJDEP Announces Change to Remediation Standards for Certain Contaminants

On September 18, 2017, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) announced updated soil remediation standards for 19 contaminants. The updates are based on changes to toxicity data for the specified contaminants maintained by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in the agency’s Integrated Risk Information System database. Responsible parties and others conducting cleanups should consult with their Licensed Site Remediation Professionals and other environmental consultants regarding the applicability of the new standards to their sites. The new standards are in effect as of September 18, 2017. A copy of the updated standards can be viewed at NJDEP’s website.

New Jersey Appellate Division Warns Planning Boards That Avoiding Controversy Risks Automatic Approval

New Jersey Appellate Division Warns Planning Boards That Avoiding Controversy Risks Automatic Approval

When reviewing land use applications, “the rule of law is paramount and cannot be sidestepped to avoid deciding unpopular land use applications.” In issuing this reminder, the New Jersey Appellate Division recently affirmed the automatic approval of a site plan application that modified a planned unit development approval (PUD) dating back to 1997, underscoring the principle that land use applications are to be adjudicated on the merits in a timely fashion. In Shipyard Associates v. Hoboken Planning Board, et al., an unpublished decision, a developer was granted PUD approval in 1997 for a mixed use waterfront project that included residential high-rise apartment buildings, commercial retail space, a parking garage, and tennis courts. The developer constructed the project, except for the tennis facilities, and, in 2011, applied for site plan approval to build two additional residential towers instead of the tennis courts. Although the applicant was deemed complete in October 2011, the matter was not scheduled to be heard at a Planning Board meeting until approximately eight months later. In the interim, the City sued the developer seeking to enforce its perceived rights under the developer’s agreement for the 1997 PUD approval. Due to the filing of that lawsuit, when the Planning...

Mere Fact That Application Would Bring Development Closer Into Compliance With Zoning Code Insufficient to Warrant Grant of Site Plan Approval and Variance, N.J. Appellate Division Affirms

Mere Fact That Application Would Bring Development Closer Into Compliance With Zoning Code Insufficient to Warrant Grant of Site Plan Approval and Variance, N.J. Appellate Division Affirms

The New Jersey Appellate Division recently affirmed denial of an application for site plan approval and variance relief despite an applicant’s contention that the application’s issues identified by the Planning Board were too minor to justify denial of the application that would bring the subject property into conformity with the zoning code. Although unpublished and nonbinding, the decision confirms New Jersey courts’ broad deference to local boards in this state, making clear that if a land use board’s legitimate concerns are not addressed by an application, the mere fact that the application would bring a property into conformity with the local zoning code is insufficient to secure a variance under New Jersey’s Municipal Land Use Law. In World Wheat Foundation, Inc. v. Planning Board of the Township of Saddle River, et al., a church-based, not-for-profit organization, sought site plan approval and variance relief to convert a property that previously served as a residential facility for the elderly into a vocational school to assist Korean families with language and the arts. The previous facility ceased operations more than two years prior to the application. The property was situated in the Township’s Secondary Business Zone, in which the former residential facility was...

Do You Like What You’re Reading? Rate Our Blog: The ABA Journal’s “Web 100” Award

Do You Like What You’re Reading? Rate Our Blog: The ABA Journal’s “Web 100” Award

Thank you for visiting the Gibbons Real Property & Environmental Law Alert blog! Content on our site, authored by members of the Gibbons Real Property & Environmental Department, integrates topics in transactional real estate, development, and environmental law that are critical to the success of property acquisitions and dispositions, real estate financings, lease transactions, major development projects, and remediation and redevelopment of brownfield sites. How are we doing? To review our blog and nominate the Gibbons Real Property & Environmental Law Alert for this year’s ABA Journal’s “Web 100” award, please visit abajournal.com/blawgs/web100 and share why you are a “fan” of our site (Please note: the voting process closes on Sunday, July 30). Thank you in advance for your support.

N.J. Appellate Division Affirms Default Approval of Substantially Complete Application for Redevelopment Project

N.J. Appellate Division Affirms Default Approval of Substantially Complete Application for Redevelopment Project

The New Jersey Appellate Division recently affirmed a trial court’s grant of an automatic site plan approval for an 87-unit multi-family residential project with possible commercial space on the ground floor in Jersey City. The decision simultaneously sheds light on what it means for an application to be “complete” and when the Municipal Land Use Law’s proverbial 95-day stopwatch for the grant or denial of preliminary approval begins ticking. In Bright and Varick Urban Renewal Co. LLC v. Jersey City Planning Bd., after the City designated the subject property as an area in need of redevelopment and adopted a redevelopment plan, the designated redeveloper filed an application seeking site plan approval for the project. The City’s Principle Planner informed the redeveloper that it needed to submit an additional 12 outstanding items before the application would be considered. The redeveloper submitted 11 of the 12 outstanding items, and stated it would provide the twelfth item upon request. Thereafter, the Principle Planner confirmed in writing that the application was “substantially complete,” and requested the redeveloper make minor changes to its plans without mentioning the twelfth outstanding item. Two months later, the City had concerns about the density of the project, tabled the...

Update: U.S. Supreme Court Announces New Test for Defining “the Parcel” in a Regulatory Taking

Update: U.S. Supreme Court Announces New Test for Defining “the Parcel” in a Regulatory Taking

On March 22, 2017, we blogged about the importance of the United States Supreme Court’s looming decision in Murr v. Wisconsin – a regulatory takings case that was poised to resolve a key question long left unanswered by the Court’s takings jurisprudence: how do you define the relevant parcel in determining a regulation’s impact on “the parcel as a whole?” On June 23, 2017, the Court issued its ruling, and in a 5-3 decision answered definitively that it depends. Sometimes a regulation may go so far as to effect a “taking” of one’s property. In determining when a regulation has gone so far, the Court has previously instructed that reviewing courts must consider the regulation’s interference with property rights “in the parcel as a whole.” But the precise boundaries of “the parcel” are not always clear and, in many cases, may prove to be dispositive of whether there was a taking at all. The Court described the problem in Keystone Bituminous Coal Assn. v. DeBenedictis, explaining that because the regulatory takings analysis requires a comparison between the value taken from the property to the value which remains, “one of the critical questions is determining how to define the unit of property whose...

Appellate Division Holds UHAC Regulations Preempt Local Code Provisions on Affordability Controls for New Developments

Appellate Division Holds UHAC Regulations Preempt Local Code Provisions on Affordability Controls for New Developments

In an unpublished decision entitled Avalon Princeton, LLC v. Princeton et al., the Appellate Division has affirmed that certain state affordable housing regulations preempt pre-existing municipal ordinances, setting a period of affordability controls for “at least 30 years” on new construction. Although not precedential, this decision provides insight on how courts may view some of the regulatory framework, particularly regarding municipal versus state regulation of newly constructed affordable units, and potentially forecasts much more flexibility for municipalities in controlling their current and future stock of affordable housing. In order to assure that affordable housing units remain affordable for a period of time, municipalities have long required that properties that are affordable to low- and moderate-income families be encumbered with some form of restrictive covenant running with the land for both rental and owner-occupied properties. The length of term of these restrictions have varied, based on the municipality and the nature of the units, but typically ran for 30 years from the date of first occupancy, and traditionally have automatically expired after that period. Following the introduction of the Fair Housing Act, these standards varied as COAH’s regulations were refined and developed over the course of the various iterations of the...

New Jersey Future Report: Changes to Low Income Housing Tax Credit Selection Criteria Change Locations of Affordable Housing Development

New Jersey Future Report: Changes to Low Income Housing Tax Credit Selection Criteria Change Locations of Affordable Housing Development

In 2013, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency made significant changes to the Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP), putting in place caps on development in areas with significant concentrations of poverty and adding additional criteria to encourage development in areas that would grant low- and moderate-income families a better chance at greater economic opportunity. Specifically, these changes encouraged development in transit oriented districts and areas with ready access to public transit, as well as encouraging development in areas with high-quality, well performing schools. In a recent study, New Jersey Future has found that these changes to the QAP have effectively implemented a policy shift in moving a significant amount of affordable housing construction out of poverty-stricken areas and reallocating such construction to more suburban areas of the State. Prior to 2013, roughly half the tax credits awarded were for economically distressed areas; after the changes to the QAP, that allocation is down to approximately 20%. More projects are being awarded tax credits in suburban areas with transit access and quality schools due to these changes in statewide policy as announced in the QAP, and this trend will likely make the limited number of tax credits allocated to urban areas...

Turning Back the Clock: NJ Appellate Division Holds That ISRA De Minimis Quantity Exemption Still Available Following Withdrawal of NFA

Turning Back the Clock: NJ Appellate Division Holds That ISRA De Minimis Quantity Exemption Still Available Following Withdrawal of NFA

The New Jersey Appellate Division recently announced several interesting holdings regarding the New Jersey Industrial Site Recovery Act (“ISRA”), N.J.S.A. 13:1K-6, et seq. In R&K Associates, LLC v. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Docket No. A-4177-14T1, the Court held that a former owner of an industrial site may apply for an exemption from the ISRA process even when the former owner has not owned the site for many years and elected to not pursue the exemption in the past. The case concerned the final decision of the Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) denying a De Minimis Quantity Exemption (“DQE”) under ISRA to the former owner of the subject industrial site. ISRA is the New Jersey law which generally requires owners of industrial sites to remediate on-site environmental contamination or expressly assume responsibility for remediation prior to transferring an ownership of the site. A DQE under ISRA allows an owner of an industrial site to avoid the requirements of ISRA where only trivial amounts of hazardous substances were used on-site. The case has an extensive procedural history with three appeals and numerous DEP actions, beginning with DEP’s withdrawal of a 1997 No Further Action (“NFA”) letter to the former owner. When...

Clarifying How New Jersey Counts Prospective Need and Evaluating Competing Proposals for Builder’s Remedies

Clarifying How New Jersey Counts Prospective Need and Evaluating Competing Proposals for Builder’s Remedies

Determining the municipal fair share housing obligation has been the subject of litigation for the better part of 18 years, since the last valid set of regulations for the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing expired in 1999. As we have previously blogged, the Supreme Court’s recent decision in In re Declaratory Judgment Actions Filed by Various Municipalities, County of Ocean, – N.J. – (2017) established that the constitutional obligation to provide realistic opportunities for the construction of affordable housing is cumulative, leaving only the question of how to calculate the need during two periods: one from 1999 to 2015, and one from 2015 to 2025. The Appellate Division recently released for publication an edited version of Judge Wolfson’s trial court opinion in In the Matter of the Application of the Township of South Brunswick for a Judgment of Compliance and Repose and Temporary Immunity from Mount Laurel Lawsuits, in an effort to provide further clarity on how to calculate prospective need during the period from 2015 to 2025. The opinion addresses two fundamental questions: (1) how shall a municipality calculate its constitutional fair share housing obligation, and (2) how to evaluate competing claims for so-called “builder’s remedy” relief from intervening developers....