Harrison Tp Redevelopment Faces Heavy Opposition

by: Joseph Grather
26 Jan 2023

A quick break from the “great 8” – – NJ.com reports that a rural Gloucester County municipality has been targeted in two lawsuits seeking to invalidate a “warehouse” friendly redevelopment plan.

To refresh everyone’s recollection, the New Jersey Constitution declares that “redevelopment” of a “blighted area” is a public use and public purpose for which private property may be taken upon payment of just compensation.  The legislature seized on this authority and the current statutory enactment is the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.  The law grants municipalities broad powers to “redevelop” blighted areas through the adoption of a redevelopment plan.

Elementally, however, this legislative beneficence only should apply to property or properties within a “blighted area”, a/k/a “area in need of redevelopment.”  If the area is indeed blighted, the municipality may adopt of “redevelopment plan” to “supersede” or “overlay” the underlying zoning ordinance.  Either way, the redevelopment plan becomes the zoning, and if an application conforms to the redevelopment plan, under the Municipal Land Use Law, it cannot be denied by the local planning board.

With that backdrop, the “Holding Hands” daycare center in Harrison Township apparently doesn’t like the idea of having gargantuan warehouses blocking out its view of the sun (not to mention the legions of tractor trailers….).  Therefore, it sued the mayor and council of Harrison Township seeking to invalidate the Kings Landing Redevelopment Plan, which would permit the development of the rural area with warehouse distribution facilities proximate to commercial corridors.  An earlier lawsuit had been filed by the Casella Farms Homeowners’ Association, which also sought to invalidate the redevelopment plan.  Both cases are pending.  It will be interesting to see how these twin cases bear out in the courthouse.

The adoption and creation of a valid redevelopment plan must exactly follow a detailed set of statutory procedures and substantive law.  There must be advance notice and due process along every step. We have been involved in the review and challenge of dozens throughout the State for more than thirty years and will continue to heed the calls…