Supreme Court to Take Another Look at Meaning of "In Need of Redevelopment"?
Late last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court certified this question:
“When designating private property as in need of redevelopment pursuant to sections 5(a), (b) and (d) of the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-1 to -73, must the municipality expressly find that the property is “blighted” pursuant to the Blighted Areas Clause of the New Jersey Constitution, art. VIII, § III, ¶ 1, and Gallenthin Realty Development, Inc. v. Borough of Paulsboro, 191 N.J. 344 (2007)?”
The question arises out of a property owner’s challenge to an “in need of redevelopment” designation by the City of Hackensack. 62-64 Main St., LLC v. City of Hackensack (Docket A-19/20-13). The Appellate Division reversed the “in need of redevelopment” designation because it found that the “trial judge and the City” misapplied the Supreme Court’s mandate in Gallenthin, supra. The appellate court reasoned that Gallenthin required an independent finding of constitutional “blight” in addition to a finding that one of the criteria found in the Local Redevelopment and Housing law applied to the property being studied. N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-5. A copy of the appellate court opinion issued earlier this year is available here.
Now that the high Court has agreed to hear the case, oral argument is likely to be scheduled for later this year or early next. It will be interesting to see if the Supreme Court further confines the municipal redevelopment power to its constitutional purpose. We’ll keep you posted.