We generally don't cover unpublished decisions, but since we're adding this case to our "to watch" list, we're making an exception. In 62-64 Main Street, LLC v. Mayor and Council of the City of Hackensack, No. A-3257-11T4 (N.J. Super. May 3, 2013), the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court held that "the trial judge and the City misapplied our Supreme Court's decision in Gallenthin Realty Development, Inc. v. Borough of Paulsboro, 191 N.J. 344 (2007)," when it concluded that the taking of property for redevelopment was supported by a blight finding. The appellate court concluded that the city had not made a factual showing that the properties it wishes to take are in an actual state of "deterioration or stagnation that negatively affects surrounding areas."
Under the Gallenthin decision, New Jersey courts -- unlike the courts in many other states -- are not mere rubber stamps for a municipality's conclusion that an area is blighted, and thus ripe for condemnation. See this case, for an example. In 62-64 Main Street, the resolution declared that the properties lacked lighting and landscaping that led to the over-utlization of street parking, but did not conclude that there was a negative impact on the community. "Moreover, the Board did not address the fact that the owners had attempted to obtain approval to develop the properties, and that the proposals were denied." Slip op. at 7. The city must do more than issue a "bland recitation of applicable statutory criteria and a declaration that those criteria are met." Slip op. at 8. It didn't do so, and thus the taking failed. If only the courts in other jurisdictions would take what appears to us to be the right approach, like New Jersey's.
The reason we're watching this case is that, according to this story, the city is going to try and get the New Jersey Supreme Court to hear the case. If it does, we'll be following.