Archive for the ‘New Jersey Law’ Category

Click on the above photo to see the full album.

Here are some pictures I took of a special exhibit at the Rutgers Law Library in 2013, focused on the Mount Laurel doctrine, its history, and its legacy. I just discovered them while I was going through old photos, and thought they might be of interest to some readers. Incidentally, I was in John Payne’s Con Law class during his last semester of teaching at Rutgers. His untimely death was jarring for those of us who were in his class. Interesting fact: he and his wife lived in a Frank Lloyd Wright house, in Glen Ridge.


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Scales and Lamp USSC

One New Jersey Supreme Court case, Cashin v. Bello, focused on a real estate matter this week. It was an unusually interesting case. The Star-Ledger explains:

The legal issue involves the grounds upon which a landlord can evict a tenant in order to occupy a home. Under New Jersey law, a landlord may evict a tenant from a building with three units or less if he or she intends to occupy the unit.

However, Cashin was prevented from evicting Bello for many years because she also owns an adjacent apartment building at 627 Washington Street with five rental units and both the apartment and the converted garage are listed in tax records as being part of the same property.

Bello has been living in the carriage house since 1973, and is paying just $345 per month under the Hoboken rent control law. Cashin — whose name seems apt in this case — has been trying to evict Bello since the 1980s. Now she can. The Supreme Court held that the lower courts had erred by treating the entire land parcel as a single building, containing more than three units, rather than treating the carriage house, alone, as a single, one-unit building. The temporary New Jersey Courts link is alive for now, but the original opinion will be archived next week at the Rutgers Law Library in Newark.

For your curiosity’s sake, here’s a look at the house:

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New Jersey now has the highest percentage of mortgaged homes in foreclosure, out of all the states. NJ Spotlight has all of the dismal details. Here in West Orange, there are still quite a few large properties — some with incredible architectural details, or panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline — that remain entirely abandoned, six years after 2008.

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New Jersey Legal Links

Scales and Lamp USSCI created a new list (below, right column) of New Jersey legal research resources. These may be helpful for pro se projects, and also just for anyone who likes having access to the whole body of state law from one simple list. People seem happily surprised to learn that the Rutgers Law Library has a free statutes annotated resource, which allows you to discover court decisions that have cited and/or interpreted a particular section of law. The MOD-IV is also an indispensable resource for anyone challenging a property tax assessment, or engaging in real estate sales research.

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I’m looking to take on some new clients in estate planning. The work offers a great opportunity to help clients while also avoiding some of the bad karma of adversarial work. Its legal issues also overlap with a lot of the property-based considerations in land use. If you know anyone in New Jersey who needs to update his or her estate planning documents — powers of attorney, wills, living wills, or trust documents — please send them along!

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New Jersey Land Use Update

Scales and Lamp USSC

There were no reported land use or zoning decisions out of the New Jersey appeals courts in the last two weeks. One unpublished case, Buckley v. Godlewski, focused on a challenge to the Stone Harbor ZBA’s decision to grant a second variance for a single property, without considering whether there had been sufficient changes in circumstance since the first variance had been granted for the latter application to survive a res judicata challenge. In a per curiam opinion, the two-judge panel wrote:

The [ZBA] improperly considered defendants’ second variance application under the applicable statutory criteria before first determining whether defendants had demonstrated changed circumstances or other good cause warranting reconsideration of their first variance application. For that reason, we are constrained to reverse and remand to the Board for “a correct application of the relevant principles of land use law.” (Citation omitted.)

It seems like there has been a lull in land use and zoning decisions recently. As always, the temporary New Jersey Courts link is alive for now, but the original opinion will be archived next week at the Rutgers Law Library in Newark.

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The Bergen Record has a piece that describes the differing responses by New York and New Jersey to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In New York, the Cuomo administration is intent on pushing a buyout program in Long Island that would pay homeowners the pre-storm market values for their properties, and encourage the abandonment of flood-prone areas. In New Jersey, the Christie administration is providing $10,000 subsidies to those who will rebuild and return to the Shore. For what it’s worth, I think Cuomo’s approach is the more sober of the two. But the emotional appeal of Christie’s plan is undeniable, and possibly irresistible in the aftermath of such devastation.

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