Concerned Citizens of Princeton, Inc. v. Mayor and Council of Borough of Princeton

This is a case which involved a redevelopment plan in downtown Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton Township decided to construct a library, parking garage, and residential housing. In order to do so, Princeton was required to adopt a redevelopment plan. Numerous neighbors opposed the plan arguing that Princeton Township, as an affluent community is not the type of area in need of redevelopment.

The trial court reviewed New Jersey law and determined that in order to have a redevelopment plan passed, the plan must meet one of the requirements under New Jersey Redevelopment Law.

(A) The generality of buildings are substandard, unsafe, unsanitary, dilapidated, or obsolescent, or possess any of such characteristics, or are so lacking in light, air, or space, as to be conducive to unwholesome living or working conditions;

(B) The discontinuance of the use of buildings previously used for commercial, manufacturing, or industrial purposes; the abandonment of such buildings; or the same being allowed to fall into so great a state of disrepair as to be untenable;

(C) (1) Land that is owned by the municipality, the county, a local housing authority, redevelopment agency or redevelopment entity, or (2) unimproved vacant land that has remained so for a period of ten years prior to adoption of the resolution, and that by reason of its location, remoteness, lack of means of access to developed sections or portions of the municipality, or topography, or nature of the soil, is not likely to be developed through the instrumentality of private capital.
Privately owned vacant land (i) vacant land for 10 years, (ii) not likely to be developed by private capital.

Publically owned and some aspect that it is not likely to be developed privately.

(D) Areas with buildings or improvements which, by reason of dilapidation, obsolescence, overcrowding, faulty arrangement or design, lack of ventilation, light and sanitary facilities, excessive land coverage, deleterious land use or obsolete layout, or any combination of these or other factors, are detrimental to the safety, health, morals, or welfare of the community;

(E) A growing lack or total lack of proper utilization of areas caused by the condition of the title, diverse ownership of the real property therein or other conditions, resulting in a stagnant or not fully productive condition of land potentially useful and valuable for contributing to and serving the public health, safety and welfare;

(F) Areas, in excess of five contiguous acres, whereon buildings or improvements have been destroyed, consumed by fire, demolished or altered by the action of storm, fire, cyclone, tornado, earthquake or other casualty in such a way that the aggregate assessed value of te area has been materially depreciated;

(G) “… this execution of the actions…for the adoption… of the … plan for the area of the enterprise zone shall be considered sufficient for the determination that the area is in need of redevelopment . . . for the purpose of granting tax exemptions within the enterprise zone…”

The trial court found the plan met the requests of public law. New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the decision.

This is a very important case since New Jersey Supreme refused to review the decision. As a result, as an Appellate Division case, the court’s decision is binding upon trial courts and clearly supports a redevelopment plan in an affluent area.