Zoning: Ordinance To Protect Environmental Characteristics Doesn’t Apply To Land Without Them

Friday, September 13, 2013 12:00 am
Land Use Law Report, Volume 41, Number 9

A zoning ordinance designed to protect environmentally sensitive areas was invalid as applied to a property that lacked environmentally distinct features and was surrounded by residential developments.

Facts: Thomas and Carol Griepenburg sued the Township of Ocean, New Jersey after the township downzoned their 31-acre property from a residential (R-2) to an environmental conservation (EC) district. Most of the property is wooded and undeveloped; the only building on the property is the Griepenburgs’ residence. The property otherwise contains no "environmentally distinct features," such as wetlands, threatened or endangered species, floodplains, or open waters.

The property sits east of the Garden State Parkway and south of County Route 532. Most of the surrounding land is residential in nature, including an 18-acre property with 7 developed lots, and a 292.76-acre property with 1400 residential units. The 18-acre property contains the environmentally distinct features of wetlands and a cranberry bog. The only neighboring property that was similarly undeveloped to the Griepenburgs&rs[..]


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