Search Site

NJ Appeals Court Requires Hearing on Wetlands Impacts in Post-Condemnation Valuation Proceeding

After New Jersey Transit used its power of condemnation to take fourteen acres of vacant land in North Bergen from a private landowner (Mori), a valuation proceeding followed. The case, New Jersey Transit v. Mori, focused on one of fourteen acres that contained wetlands regulated by the federal government (US Army Corp of Engineers or ACOE). At the trial court level, New Jersey Transit and the property owner presented competing estimates of the value of the condemned property. New Jersey Transit estimated that the one acre was valued at $61,000 because of the presence of wetlands. The property owner presented contrary expert testimony that it was reasonably probable that the landowner would obtain an ACOE permit to develop the land despite the presence of wetlands. With such a permit, the landowner argued that the property should be valued at $666,000. After trial, the jury awarded the property owner $425,000. 

The Appellate Division concluded that it was “error for the trial court to submit to the jury the question of whether the ACOE would have granted a Section 404 permit to a private developer without the court first conducting [its] gate-keeping function.” In short, the appeal court explained that “the trial court was obligated to conduct an N.J.R.E. 104 pre-trial hearing to determine whether there existed sufficient evidence of a reasonable probability the ACOE would have granted a permit for the proposed private development.” In reaching this conclusion, the Appellate Division relied on the recent decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court in the Borough of Saddle River v. 66 East Allendale, 216 N.J. 115 (2013).

The Mori decision is published at 435 N.J. Super. 425, and is also available here. For more information on the regulation of both coastal and freshwater wetlands in the state of New Jersey, visit Lieberman Blecher & Sinkevich P.C.’s wetlands resource page. Property owners and developers confronted with the issue of wetlands regulated by federal or state law in New Jersey should contact a knowledgeable environmental lawyer to discuss their legal obligations and explore their options.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Attorneys

In The Media

  • On the Run: Runner/lawyer DeBord out to protect the environment she loves

    Bucks County Herald, January 4, 2024

    When Brittany DeBord runs along the Delaware River canal towpath or on the trails of Tyler State Park, she doesn’t just appreciate the natural beauty of the...

    Read More
  • Gulf Coast Town Center facing foreclosure

    Naples Daily News, September 16, 2015

    Wells Fargo filed a lawsuit Sept. 8 against an affiliate of CBL & Associates, the owners of the decadeold, 1.2 million-square-foot mall in south Fort Myers for a $190.9 million unpaid loan. The center has 94 stores on 204 acres, with such anchors as Super Target, Belk, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Marshalls and Costco...

    Read More
  • Town liable for private company's leaking underground tanks, court rules Jul 26, 2017

    CRANFORD -- A couple that owned a businesses in town and became sick from leaking underground tanks owned by an adjacent business can sue the township for damages because the tanks were partially ...

    Read More
  • Dark Waters: How a Class Action Catapulted NJ to Forefront of 'Forever Chemicals' Battle

    NJ Law Journal Jan 09, 2020

    As property owners become increasingly aware of PFAS contamination, and as individuals exposed to PFAS learn of the health risks associated with exposure, liability will likely affect entire supply chains.

    Read More
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
Contact Our Firm

Quick Contact Form