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Municipal Websites Should Comply with the ADA

January 13th, 2020 | Written by Tara A. St. Angelo, Esq.

Lawsuits alleging that websites violate provisions of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) have spiked in recent years.  One review of federal lawsuits estimates that over 2,000 lawsuits alleging ADA violations in websites will be filed in the United States this year, with an estimated 4% in New Jersey1.  Although these lawsuits have focused on businesses, municipalities may wind up in the crosshairs. 

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Exhaustion of Remedies No Longer Required in Constitutional Takings Cases

July 12th, 2019 | Written by Leslie A. Parikh, Esq.

In Knick v. Township of Scott, Pa. (No. 17-647), decided June 21, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the longstanding precedent set forth in Williamson County v. Hamilton Bank (1985), which required a plaintiff bringing a claim under the Civil Rights Act of 1871 (Section 1983) for unconstitutional taking of private property to first exhaust state and local remedies.

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Tax Court Rules that Unmanaged Forest Land Does Not Qualify for Farmland Assessment

April 3rd, 2019 | Written by Tara A. St. Angelo, Esq.

The Tax Court held in Hertz v. Borough of Lincoln Park, Docket No. 009897-2017 (Jan. 8, 2019) that unmanaged forest land does not qualify for farmland assessment.  Pursuant to the Farmland Assessment Act, at least five acres of a property must be “actively devoted to agricultural or horticultural use” in order to be eligible for farmland assessment.  N.J.S.A. 54:4-23.2. 

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Appellate Division Again Finds that Violations of Local Government Ethics Law Must be Intentional to be Actionable

April 2nd, 2019 | Written by Tara A. St. Angelo, Esq.

Earlier this year, the Appellate Division held that violations of the Local Government Ethics Law (N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5 et seq.) require a showing of intent.  Cosby-Hurling, et al., v. Local Finance Board, Docket No. A-5528-16T2 (Jan. 18, 2019)1.  The decision in Cosby-Hurling was unpublished and, therefore, not binding on other courts.  However, the Appellate Division has again held that a violation of N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5(c) requires a showing of intent in the published decision Mondsini v. Local Finance Board, Docket No. A-4482-16T4 (March 5, 2019). 

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Appellate Division Finds that Violations of Local Government Ethics Law Must be Intentional to be Actionable

February 27th, 2019 | Written by Tara A. St. Angelo, Esq.

City of Linden Council members recently appealed a determination of the Local Finance Board on summary judgment that they had violated N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5(c) by using their positions to secure an unwarranted privilege for another Council member.  Cosby-Hurling, et al., v. Local Finance Board, Docket No. A-5528-16T2 (Jan. 18, 2019). 

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Appellate Decision Cautions Land Use Board Members Against Ex Parte Communications with Applicants

February 25th, 2019 | Written by Tara A. St. Angelo, Esq.

On appeal in Sternas v. DMH2, LLC, A-2051-16T4 (Feb. 4, 2019), the Appellate Division considered whether the Class II Planning Board member, who was also the municipal engineer, had a conflict of interest due to ex parte communications with an applicant. 

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Appellate Division Declines to Apply Heightened Standard to Zoning Ordinances that Contradict State and Regional Plans

February 20th, 2019 | Written by Tara A. St. Angelo, Esq.

In Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. v. Township of Branchburg, A-0843-16T1 (App. Div. Dec. 13, 2018), the Township of Branchburg appealed the trial court’s holding that invalidated a 2008 land use ordinance amendment down-zoning the Merck property. 

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Profit-Making Parking Authorities are Entitled to Common Law Snow and Ice Removal Immunity

August 1st, 2018 | Written by Tara St. Angelo, Esq.

The Appellate Division recently held that a municipal parking authority, the South Orange Parking Authority (SOPA), was immune from liability for injuries the plaintiff sustained after slipping and falling on an icy sidewalk adjacent to a municipal parking lot.  Molino v. Twp. of South Orange, et al., Docket No. A-3548-16T2 (July 12, 2018).  The parking lot was owned by a municipality and operated by SOPA.

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Appellate Division Upholds Termination of Chemistry Teacher

July 12th, 2018 | Written by Tara St. Angelo, Esq.

A tenured chemistry teacher recently appealed a trial court’s decision in his case against the Hunterdon Central Regional High School District Board (the “Board”).  The Board had referred tenure charges against the teacher to the Commission of Education, and the teacher alleged violations of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) and failure to send a Rice notice.  On appeal in R.D.A. v. Hunterdon Central Regional High School District Bd. of Education, et al., Docket No. A-5011-16T3 (App. Div. June 28, 2018), the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s dismissal holding that the action was time-barred and that OPMA had not been violated.  

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OPRA and Security Camera Footage

July 10th, 2018 | Written by Tara St. Angelo, Esq.

The New Jersey Supreme Court in Gilleran v. Twp. of Bloomfield, 227, N.J. 159 (2016) set forth a test to determine whether security footage of public buildings should be disclosed pursuant to an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request.  However, the Court has not opined as to whether security footage of private property obtained during police investigations is subject to OPRA. 

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