March 19, 2019

March 18, 2019

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New Jersey Court Tightens Screw on Redevelopment Condemnation

The Appellate Division of New Jersey Superior Court has narrowed the circumstances in which municipalities may condemn land for redevelopment over the objection of the property owner.  Glassboro v. Grossman involved an admittedly derelict structure located on approximately one acre that Glassboro included in a redevelopment area in 2000. In 2017, the town filed a condemnation action to acquire the property by eminent domain “for the purpose of redevelopment . . . and for the specific purpose of increasing the availability of public parking.” The property owner contested the condemnation and the town acknowledged that while public parking is one possible use of the property, the property might instead be used for some other purpose related to redevelopment. The property owner contended that the provision in the Local Redevelopment & Housing Law that authorizes municipalities to condemn land that is “necessary for the redevelopment project” requires the town to establish a definitive need to acquire the parcel in question for an identified redevelopment project. The property owner contended that the mere “stockpiling” of real estate land that might be useful for future redevelopment projects is not permitted.

In a January 7, 2019, precedential decision, the Appellate Division agreed with the property owner. The Court stated that “the fact that a parcel is located within a designated redevelopment area does not mean that a municipality may condemn and acquire that parcel at any time without restriction. Instead, the [statute] prescribes that local government can only acquire, through its condemnation powers, a land or building ‘which is necessary for the redevelopment project.’” Focusing on the word “necessary”, the Court decided that assembling land for a future, undefined redevelopment project, which the Court characterized as “land banking” or “land assemblage”, is not permitted. Rather, when a property owner challenges the government’s effort to acquire its property for redevelopment, “there must be an explained linkage between the property to be acquired and the identified project”, and that it “must be justified by a reasonable presentation of supporting proof.” That burden of proof is on the municipality.

Towns often accomplish redevelopment without resorting to eminent domain. Yet when a town does seek to condemn land for redevelopment purposes, the Glassboro v. Grossman decision narrows the circumstances in which it may do so.

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About this Author

Michael A. Bruno, Giordano Law Firm, Real Estate Attorney

Mr. Bruno, shareholder in Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla's Real Estate, Land Use & Development practice area, focuses his practice area on real estate transactions and approvals with an emphasis on redevelopment, planned residential development, affordable housing, and mixed use development. Mr. Bruno represents and counsels companies and developers in every phase of real estate acquisitions, financing and development including redevelopment agreements and long and short term financial agreements and other state, regional and local agency financing programs available in connection...

Marc D. Policastro, Giordano Law Firm, Business Attorney

Mr. Policastro is a transactional, business attorney, who focuses his practice in development, redevelopment, environmental compliance cases, corporate transactional matters, land use, zoning and business counseling. Admitted to practice in New Jersey and New York, he has represented numerous national developers, manufacturers, cogeneration facilities and utilities, automobile dealerships, lenders, borrowers and municipal boards in myriad land use contexts, including commercial and residential development and due diligence matters. He also focuses on complex remediation cases and general environmental compliance counseling. He has significant experience in ISRA, Spill Act, LSRP, UST and related hazardous substance regulatory matters and redevelopment of contaminated sites. Mr. Policastro is originally from New York City and was raised in Holmdel, NJ. Mr. Policastro attended Christian Brothers Academy, University of Richmond and Seton Hall Law School. He now resides with his two children in Little Silver, NJ.

Donna A. McBarron, Giordano Halleran Law firm, real estate lawyer, redevelopment attorney

Donna A. McBarron is of-counsel to the Real Estate, Redevelopment and Planned Real Estate Department and the Leasing Department. Ms. McBarron has over 15 years of experience dealing with complex commercial real estate matters, negotiating commercial leases, and has represented multiple municipalities in connection with their affordable housing litigation and compliance. Ms. McBarron received her BA from Rutgers University and her JD from Rutgers University School of Law.


Mr. Shemesh, an Associate in the firm's Real Estate, Redevelopment and Planned Real Estate Development Practice Area, focuses his practice on all land-related matters, including redevelopment projects, commercial real estate transactions, and landlord-tenant disputes.

Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Shemesh worked as an associate in the corporate group of a global law firm, assisting with corporate matters including, but not limited to, mergers and acquisitions, equity financings, corporate governance, private equity transactions, and capital...

Kyle J. Campanile Giodano Law FIrm

Kyle Campanile is an Associate in the firm's Real Estate, Redevelopment and Planned Real Estate Development Practice Area. Mr. Campanile focuses his practice on commercial real estate and land use matters, with emphasis on development, redevelopment and facilitating transactions. Mr. Campanile has experience preparing and reviewing applications for site plans, use and bulk variances, and long-term tax abatements. Additionally, Mr. Campanile has negotiated and prepared agreements concerning financings, leasings, acquisitions and sales.