In a decision dated May 19, 2006, Judge Harris of the New Jersey Superior Court, Law Division, “employ[ed] drastic steps” to fulfill the Mount Laurel mandate and cure two municipalities’ “longstanding and blatant disregard for the unhoused and underhoused poor.” As a result, the Southern Bergen County municipalities of East Rutherford and Carlstadt have lost their authority to regulate the use of land and review development applications. Their zoning ordinances no longer control development applications; they are now merely advisory. Their Planning Boards and Zoning Boards of Adjustment have been stripped of any authority to grant approvals.
As a result of this decision, development applications must be approved by Robert T. Regan, Esq., who was appointed by Judge Harris to serve as the Mount Laurel Implementation Monitor for both Carlstadt and East Rutherford. Mr. Regan has been tasked with overseeing all development activity in both municipalities for the foreseeable future in order to ensure both municipalities meet their Mount Laurel obligations.
The Court also prevented East Rutherford and Carlstadt from frustrating the development of affordable housing within the New Jersey Meadowlands District. This was a significant issue because both municipalities have substantial portions of land under the primary jurisdiction of the NJMC and there are some indications of new plans to develop residential units there. The Monitor will essentially take the place of the municipal officials in their dealings with the NJMC involving land use matters and development applications.
The lawsuit was filed by land use attorneys Thomas Jay Hall and Robert Kasuba of Sills Cummis Epstein & Gross on behalf of developer Tomu Development Co., Inc.