Committee for a Better Twin Rivers v. Twin Rivers Homeowners’ Association 

In an effort to clarify the rights of the over one million New Jersey citizens who reside in various common interest community associations governed by an association board, the New Jersey Supreme Court has recently announced that it has granted certification and will hear the Twin Rivers Homeowners’ Association’s appeal of the Appellate Division’s decision in Committee for a Better Twin Rivers v. Twin Rivers Homeowners’ Association, 383 N.J. Super. 22 (App. Div. 2006), the landmark Appellate Division decision issued February 7, 2006. 

A recent New Jersey Lawyer article speculates that the eventual Supreme Court decision may be the biggest free-speech case in the state since the Supreme Court’s 1994 decision in New Jersey Coalition Against War in the Middle East v. J.M.B. Realty Corp., 138 N.J. 326 (1994). In New Jersey Coalition, the Supreme Court ruled that private shopping malls must provide free-speech rights to demonstrators and allow leafleting on issues of public import. In doing so, the Court observed that suburban shopping centers “have substantially displaced the downtown business districts at the centers of commercial and social activity.” In Twin Rivers, the Appellate Division went even further than the Court in New Jersey Coalition to say that common interest community associations essentially perform public functions and have supplanted the role once played by towns and municipalities. Moreover, the Court in Twin Rivers went on to hold that state constitutional rights to free speech outweigh certain restrictions imposed by homeowners associations, even though such property is private. The Supreme Court will now be left to determine whether the Appellate Division’s decision went too far and was too expansive, ultimately leaving common interest community associations without clear and defined parameters as to the rights of their members. 

Stark & Stark will continue to monitor this significant case and provide timely updates as to its progress. If you would like to discuss the Twin Rivers decision and how it affects condominium associations in more detail, please contact one of the attorneys in Stark & Stark’s Community Associations Group.