Property within an area being studied for redevelopment in the context of a preliminary investigation under the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law (“LRHL”) may be declared blighted even if it does not satisfy any one of the statutory redevelopment criteria provided that the municipal governing body finds that such property is necessary for the effective redevelopment of the study area. Although not essential to its ruling, the New Jersey Supreme Court addressed the matter of designating non-blighted properties for redevelopment in the case of Gallenthin Realty v. Bor. of Paulsboro decided last year and officially reported at 191 N.J. 344 (2007).
According to the Court, “non-blighted parcels may be included in a redevelopment plan if . . . [they are] integral to the larger [blighted area].” As such, the placement of non-blighted property into a redevelopment zone must be based upon more than mere convenience. A circumstance that might warrant such action is the lack of accessibility. Specifically, if non-blighted property within a study area may be used as a roadway for other properties within the study area that are landlocked or have insufficient access to the existing public ways, the inclusion of such non-blighted property in the proposed redevelopment zone might be appropriate. However, the inquiry does not necessarily end here. The Court suggested in Gallenthin Realty that before a municipal governing body may delineate non-blighted property deemed to be necessary for redevelopment it must look at the current state of the parcel and conduct a balancing test weighing “the benefits” of utilizing the parcel for redevelopment purposes against whatever productive use it may have.