Asbury Park: Courts Deny Property Owners’ Request For Takings

by Joseph Grather / New Jersey Condemnation Law

On March 26, 2012, the Appellate Division wrote another chapter in Asbury Park’s redevelopment book, where the final and unwritten chapter conjures images of the City’s ‘glory days.’  City of Asbury Park v. Springwood Lake, LLC.  Without recounting the entire Asbury Park redevelopment history, the short course in this case is as follows:  Property was designated in need of redevelopment; redeveloper was unable to acquire properties through negotiation.  Then, in 2006, a deal was reached between a group of property owners, the redeveloper, and the City.

The property owners’ expectation was the cases would proceed quickly to a taking and valuation litigation. Not so.

The cases were filed in 2008, but the City did not take title to the properties, and the designated redeveloper never proceeded to acquire title or complete the redevelopment project.  In the Spring of 2010 the property owners moved to compel the takings and cited the City’s agreement with the redeveloper in support of its argument that the City was required to take the properties.  The Law Division denied the property owners’ motion, and they appealed.

The Appellate Division was not persuaded:  ”Appellants’ arguments find no support in the law and fly in the face of the plain meaning of the agreement.  We are unpersuaded by appellants’ invocation of the square corners doctrine and reject their request” to apply judicial estoppel against the City.”

The Appellate Division also affirmed the trial court’s reduction of legal fees requested by property owners’ counsel under the Eminent Domain Act.

For more information, see the Asbury Park Press article on these cases.  The appellate court’s opinion is also available here.

Originally published by New Jersey Condemnation Law; republished with permission

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