Rehearing Ordered on Interest Rate Decision in Long Branch Taking
Failure to Provide Evidentiary Hearing on Interest Rates Requires Remand
A New Jersey appellate court recently held that a Monmouth County Superior Court trial judge erred by failing to hold an evidentiary hearing in a Long Branch redevelopment taking case, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 20:3-31 and -32 after it was requested by the property owners. The parties, the City of Long Branch and West of Pier Associates, L.L.C., were unable to agree on the rate of interest to be applied to the to award of just compensation for the taking. Each side offered a witness to testify regarding the appropriate to applied, but the trial court determined that it could decide the matter based on the certifications submitted by each party and without live testimony. However, the Appellate Division stated that a hearing was required because the matter had extended over seven years, causing a large disparity between the suggested different rates and potential interest awards.
The Appellate Division also had concerns whether Long Branch’s real estate appraiser should be accepted as an expert on the subject of interest rates. Thus, they also required the trial court to hold a R. 104(a) hearing to determine whether the appraiser is qualified to testify as an expert if Long Branch decides to again rely on his testimony.
The matter was remanded to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing in accord with the Appellate Division’s opinion.
A copy of the court’s opinion in City of Long Branch v. West of Pier Associates, LLC, can be found here.
The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Cory K. Kestner, Esq., of McKirdy & Riskin, PA, in the preparation of this article.