Can a local planning board could disregard its own ordinances and reject a fully conforming application merely because it didn’t like the proposed project? That notion would strike a builder or land use lawyer as the very definition of “ arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.” Yet, the Hamilton Planning Board did just that, and argued before a trial court and the appellate division that it would be “good public policy” to give local planning boards that power.
On March 7th, the State Supreme Court reviewed the case, Levin v Hamilton Township Planning Board. Defending the builder-developer in oral argument before the State’s highest court was Sills Cummis attorney James Hirschhorn. Mr. Hirschhorn clearly and forcefully argued that long-standing precedent and logic required the Supreme Court to uphold the trial court and the appellate division, whose judges had found that there was no basis in law for Hamilton Township’s position.
Click below to read Hirschhorn’s briefs.