Author: Jennifer P. Smith

Navigating the Impact of Executive Orders on Shore Rentals and Hotels

With prom season and summer approaching, the COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges and confusion for shore rentals and hotels. Unlike the regulation of most other businesses during the pandemic, the regulation of short-term lodging and hotels has been delegated to municipalities and counties by the state. As a result, there now exists a patchwork of varying regulations on a county-by-county and town-by-town basis. Those who own hotels or rental properties, and thwarted travelers looking for remedies, must undertake a careful evaluation of municipal and county directives in effect for the relevant locations. Executive Orders No. 107 and No. 108 and Administrative Order No. 2020-8 Executive Order No. 107, entered March 21, 2020, expressly closed all “non-essential retail businesses” and all recreational and entertainment businesses. In an effort to standardize restrictions throughout the state, Executive Order No. 108, entered on the same day, invalidated any existing or future restriction by a county or municipality that “in any way will or might conflict with any of the provisions of Executive Order No. 107, or which will or might interfere with or impede its achievement, or the achievement of Administrative Orders issued as authorized by [the Governor’s] Executive Orders.” Executive Order No. 108, however, had an exception for the lodging industry. Specifically, the Governor granted the Superintendent of...

NJABC Suspends New Limited Brewery Rules

Less than two weeks after issuing it, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (NJABC) has suspended its Special Ruling that imposed new regulations on Limited Brewery Licensees. The Special Ruling released in late September included restrictions on, among other things, special events and entertainment at Limited Breweries. In its announcement, the NJABC stated that the suspension of the restrictions will provide the opportunity to engage in further conversations with craft breweries and other alcoholic beverage license holders about the impact of the Special Ruling. The NJABC is also poised to work with state legislators to determine whether new legislation is needed to update the law that prompted the Special Ruling.

NJABC Issues New Grand Opening Permit, Limited Brewery Rules

The New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (NJABC) has recently issued two notices to the regulated community – the first notice impacting all consumption licensees hosting a Grand Opening event (known as a “soft opening”) and the second impacting the operation of a Limited Brewery. Due to the highly regulated nature of alcoholic beverages and the recent announcement of these rules, licensees should be diligent in their compliance. The Grand Opening Permit authorizes an on-premise consumption licensee to sponsor a one-time private event on the licensed premises at its initial opening. With this permit, the NJABC recognizes that a new licensee may want to introduce itself to certain members of the community through a private event before its opening to the general public. The licensee must maintain a list of all individuals invited and when the invitation was accepted (no same-day invitations or “walk-up” invitees), and the list must be provided to the NJABC within ten days after the event. The licensee can offer an open bar at the event for no more than three hours (unless the permit authorizes differently), and the entire licensed premises must be closed to the public with clear and conspicuous signage that the premises is closed for a private event. The new regulations for Limited Brewery Licensees (those breweries with...

New Jersey Appellate Division Warns Planning Boards That Avoiding Controversy Risks Automatic Approval

When reviewing land use applications, “the rule of law is paramount and cannot be sidestepped to avoid deciding unpopular land use applications.” In issuing this reminder, the New Jersey Appellate Division recently affirmed the automatic approval of a site plan application that modified a planned unit development approval (PUD) dating back to 1997, underscoring the principle that land use applications are to be adjudicated on the merits in a timely fashion. In Shipyard Associates v. Hoboken Planning Board, et al., an unpublished decision, a developer was granted PUD approval in 1997 for a mixed use waterfront project that included residential high-rise apartment buildings, commercial retail space, a parking garage, and tennis courts. The developer constructed the project, except for the tennis facilities, and, in 2011, applied for site plan approval to build two additional residential towers instead of the tennis courts. Although the applicant was deemed complete in October 2011, the matter was not scheduled to be heard at a Planning Board meeting until approximately eight months later. In the interim, the City sued the developer seeking to enforce its perceived rights under the developer’s agreement for the 1997 PUD approval. Due to the filing of that lawsuit, when the Planning Board finally turned to the application in July 2012, the Planning Board refused to consider...

N.J. Appellate Division Affirms Default Approval of Substantially Complete Application for Redevelopment Project

The New Jersey Appellate Division recently affirmed a trial court’s grant of an automatic site plan approval for an 87-unit multi-family residential project with possible commercial space on the ground floor in Jersey City. The decision simultaneously sheds light on what it means for an application to be “complete” and when the Municipal Land Use Law’s proverbial 95-day stopwatch for the grant or denial of preliminary approval begins ticking. In Bright and Varick Urban Renewal Co. LLC v. Jersey City Planning Bd., after the City designated the subject property as an area in need of redevelopment and adopted a redevelopment plan, the designated redeveloper filed an application seeking site plan approval for the project. The City’s Principle Planner informed the redeveloper that it needed to submit an additional 12 outstanding items before the application would be considered. The redeveloper submitted 11 of the 12 outstanding items, and stated it would provide the twelfth item upon request. Thereafter, the Principle Planner confirmed in writing that the application was “substantially complete,” and requested the redeveloper make minor changes to its plans without mentioning the twelfth outstanding item. Two months later, the City had concerns about the density of the project, tabled the application for another approximately two months, and then ultimately denied the application due to the...

New Jersey Supreme Court Appoints Trial Court the Venue for Affordable Housing Disputes

Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a green light to developers and other interested parties to eventually pursue builders’ remedy actions in New Jersey Superior Court. The decision is the latest in a battle over affordable housing that has been in and out of the courts since the Mount Laurel decision in 1975. Most recently, in September 2013, the Supreme Court overturned the Council on Affordable Housing’s (“COAH”) latest attempt at adopting affordable housing regulations and ordered COAH to adopt new regulations within five months. That period was eventually extended to November 2014. COAH, however, did not adopt new regulations. Its inaction prompted a motion in aid of litigants’ rights, whereby parties to the prior action sought to break the bureaucratic logjam. Last week’s decision, designating trial courts as the venue for affordable housing disputes, is the New Jersey Supreme Court’s solution to the logjam.

Rebuilding New Jersey After Sandy – Potential Property Tax Relief for Owners of Damaged Properties

This article is the second in a series that deals with the legal implications of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated many areas of New Jersey on October 29, 2012. Owners of property with a structure that has suffered substantial damage or that has been destroyed should be aware that they may qualify for a lower property tax assessment, which may result in lower property taxes next year.

Rebuilding New Jersey After Sandy – Hurdles for Nonconforming Uses

On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy devastated many areas of New Jersey, with the coastal areas seeing unprecedented devastation. Residents and business owners from the Jersey Shore, including the bayshore areas, face the daunting task of rebuilding. Many business and property owners, however, cannot simply apply for a building permit to replace damaged structures. For many, it will be an uphill legal battle to rebuild. This is particularly true for property owners who had been operating nonconforming uses.

NJ Supreme Court to Hear Oral Argument on COAH Third Round Affordable Housing Regulations

On November 7, 2012, the New Jersey Supreme Court will be hearing oral argument as to whether the latest regulations adopted by the Council on Affordable Housing (“COAH”) are valid. Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules, the decision will have a far-ranging impact on the future of affordable housing in New Jersey and is being watched closely by developers, municipalities and public interest groups.

Whose Interest is it Anyway?: How the Town of Kearny, N.J. Stumbled on the Condemnation of a Leasehold Interest

Last month, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an opinion in Town of Kearny v. Discount City of Old Bridge, which refined and further complicated the process of condemning a leasehold interest. The decision also called into question condemnation provisions in existing leases. The atypical facts in the case likely led to the complex conclusion. The Town of Kearny designated an industrial area as an area in need of redevelopment pursuant to the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.