In a recent decision, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court vacated a resolution passed by the City of Hoboken because it misapplied a requirement under New Jersey’s Local Redevelopment and Housing Law (LRHL).
Facts of the Case
The dispute in Neumann v. City of Hoboken concerns Resolution No. 1 of the Hoboken City Council, which was adopted on October 19, 2011 pursuant to the LRHL. Under Resolution No. 1, the Council delineated an “area in need of rehabilitation” (AINreh), which included property owned by plaintiff R. Neumann & Co.
Following the adoption of Resolution No. 1, Neumann filed a complaint naming as defendants the City of Hoboken, the Council, the City of Hoboken’s Mayor, Dawn Zimmer, and the Planning Board. The complaint asserts three claims in lieu of prerogative writs, in which Neumann contends that Resolution No. 1 is not supported by adequate evidence, is motivated by a pretextual purpose, and is inconsistent with the LRHL. After the trial court dismissed his claims, Neumann appealed.
The Court’s Decision
The Appellate Division vacated Resolution No. 1. It specifically held that the resolution was arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable because it rested on the Council’s “disregard or misunderstanding” of the statutory standard.
In reaching its decision, the Court highlighted that Resolution No. 1 indicated that the Council relied on a report from the Planning Board Engineer and the Planning Board Planner “that within the Property the water and sewer lines are at least [fifty] years old or are in need of substantial maintenance.” (emphasis added). However, the clause of the LRHL that addresses the delineation of an AINreh related to water and sewer infrastructure provides, “or a majority of the water and sewer infrastructure in the delineated area is at least [fifty] years old and is in need of repair or substantial maintenance.” (emphasis added).
In addition, the Court noted that the Legislature amended the LRHL while the case was pending. L.2013, C.159 (approved September 6, 2013) In its current form, the statute requires that “a majority of the water and sewer infrastructure in the delineated area is at least [fifty] years old and is in need of repair or substantial maintenance.”
As further explained by the Appellate Division, “There is absolutely nothing in the Resolution indicating that the Council determined that the area it delineated is in need of rehabilitation in conformity with N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-14(a)(6), as it is written now, or with N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-14(a)(2)-(3), as those provisions were written prior to the adoption of L. 2013, c. 159. In short, Resolution No. 1 must be vacated, because we cannot conclude the Council ‘determine[d] by resolution [that an] enumerated condition exists.’”
For more information about this case or the legal issues involved, we encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Government Law Group.