Judges Must Consider Zoning Change Likelihood In Eminent Domain Cases

Tuesday, July 03, 2018 9:30 am
July 2018 - Volume 46 Number 7

When a possible zoning change could affect the fair market value of a condemned property, a judge should first determine whether there is sufficient evidence that the zoning change is likely before it allows the jury to consider whether that zoning change would affect the property’s value.

Facts: In 2002, developer 66 East Allendale, LLC (East Allendale) bought 2.13 acres in the Borough of Saddle River, New Jersey (the Borough). The property was split-zoned, with about one third of the property in the office zone (O-1) and two thirds in the residential zone (R-1). The O-1 zone permitted office buildings, but it included a 30-percent “lot coverage” limit, meaning that only 30 percent of the lot’s total area could be improved. However, the 30-percent lot coverage limit was generally not enforced by the Borough.

East Allendale planned to build a bank on the property. In 2004, it submitted a plan for a 10,000-square foot building, which would contain a bank and offices. The plan included a parking lot adjacent to the proposed building. The parking lot would include at least 57 parking spaces. The proposed building require[..]