Stand Clear: Belleville Prepares to Investigate a New Redevelopment Area

by: Michael Realbuto
4 Oct 2022

Besides being the hometown of a man who motivated many tri-state attorneys with his courtroom pizzazz, Belleville is also the potential home to a new “area in need of redevelopment” pursuant to the New Jersey Local Redevelopment and Housing Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:12A;1, et seq (“LRHL”). Last week, the Belleville Town Council passed a resolution that authorized the planning board to investigate whether a group of properties on Washington Avenue and Valley Street are eligible to be declared a “non-condemnation area in need of redevelopment” under the LRHL.

Pursuant to the LRHL, the planning board’s “investigation” is one of the first steps to designate a property “in need of redevelopment.” Following the investigation, the planning board then has the authority to recommend (or reject) the redevelopment designation of each property via a resolution directed to the government body. The governing body ultimately decides whether or not to accept the planning board’s recommendation.

In this Belleville case, the potential designation would give the town the power to adopt a redevelopment plan which can create new or additional zoning for the properties in the area and to provide some controls over any redevelopment through a redevelopment agreement with any designated redeveloper. Also of significance is the fact that the potential designation does not permit any of the properties in the area to be taken via the power of eminent domain.  Prior to 2013, all redevelopment designations in New Jersey pursuant to the LRHL automatically provided municipal agencies to use eminent domain to undertake redevelopment projects within their boundaries. However, the LRHL was amended in 2013 to create two different types of redevelopment designations and projects:  a traditional redevelopment project authorizing eminent domain, and a “non-condemnation” redevelopment area which permits towns to utilize all redevelopment powers under the LRHL except for the power of eminent domain. More information on this amendment to the law, which was intended to expand redevelopment opportunities without involving the contentious issue of eminent domain, and created a new option for N.J. municipalities, is available in this article by MROD partner Anthony DellaPelle.

Since the potential redevelopment area here does not avail Belleville of the power of eminent domain, any future redevelopment will be undertaken by either the current owners or any buyers of the properties who could then seek to be designated as the “redeveloper” for the project. We will be sure to keep an eye on this project during the course of the investigation. Questions regarding redevelopment and the potential use of eminent domain often come hand in hand and our firm has expertise in both areas. MROD’s attorneys often challenge redevelopment designations in court on behalf of property owners in an effort to prevent the potential use of eminent domain or the stigma that a “condemnation redevelopment area” label can bring to a property. Feel free to contact us for an initial consultation.