Two recent Appellate Division decisions have added significantly to the body of New Jersey eminent domain jurisprudence. Though both rest heavily on the statutory provisions underlying the respective property acquisitions at issue, the principles they collectively establish have broader reach and should be considered integral components of all New Jersey legislative constructs authorizing condemnation. Succinctly stated, the two decisions conflate to the following principle: A governmental entity initiating eminent domain proceedings in this state must be prepared to demonstrate a reasonable necessity for acquiring the subject property that is linked to an identifiable project advancing a legitimate public purpose, the realization of which is reasonably anticipated in the foreseeable future.

In the first case, Borough of Glassboro v. Grossman (App. Div., slip op., Jan. 7, 2019), the court dismissed a condemnation complaint filed by a municipality under the Local Housing & Redevelopment Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-1 et seq. (LHRL), on the grounds that it was unable to credibly demonstrate: (i) a specific redevelopment project, (ii) with a sufficient link to the targeted property, and (iii) a reasonable necessity for taking the latter in advancement of the former. The court’s statutory analysis under the LHRL and the procedure it established for a plenary hearing to litigate the foregoing are the subject of a previous article by the author in this publication. See “Court Establishes New Procedure for Redevelopment Condemnations: The Glassboro Hearing,” New Jersey Law Journal, March 4, 2019.

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