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New Jersey & New York Construction Law Blog

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How may environmental concerns delay or halt construction?

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2021 | Construction Litigation |

Construction projects that change a land’s zoning code may run into delays when residents challenge the local board’s approval. As noted by the American Bar Association, individuals may file a lawsuit against the local zoning board to contest its decision.

The court generally reviews the board’s decision-making process and may confirm or deny the outcome. If residents can show that the board members’ decision to approve a project will result in unnecessary hardship, a judge may reject the land-use change. The lengthy legal process may also delay or halt construction.

NJ Residents challenge local zoning board

Two community organizations and a dozen residents sued the zoning board of a New Jersey township. As reported by NJ Spotlight News, residents challenged the board’s decision to approve a zoning variance that changed a 25-acre property coded as rural/residential.

Board members allegedly acted “arbitrary and capricious” in approving a variance that allows warehouses as high as 50 feet. According to the lawsuit, the board failed to justify making changes from the land’s current zoning code. Its members allegedly failed to show how the changes would not result in a detriment to the public.

Allegations of environmental harm

The lawsuit claims warehouses and 60 truck bays would harm children attending the elementary school adjoining the property. The developer’s plans included constructing warehouses as large as 900,000 square feet, which adds commercial truck traffic and air pollution. The American Lung Association has rated the local area’s air quality poorly, and an increase in pollution could harm the community.

New Jersey residents may persuade the courts to reject or reverse a zoning board’s land-use changes. In making its decision, board members must follow zoning and planning guidelines under the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law. Developers may need to revise their construction plans and follow environmental concerns to prevent unnecessary delays.