Kilkenny, Halpern and Lane. The opinion of the court was delivered by Halpern, J.A.D.
Defendants owned four five-story buildings in Hoboken, New Jersey, each of which contained stores on the ground level and apartments on the upper floors. On September 20, 1967 the area in which the four buildings were located was declared blighted by plaintiff. On October 14, 1968 plaintiff filed separate complaints to acquire the buildings, and ultimately commissioners were appointed to fix the compensation to be paid. On April 17, 1969 plaintiff filed declarations of taking and, pursuant to court orders, deposited in court sums totalling $50,100 and took possession of the four buildings.
The commissioners filed their report on February 17, 1969, and plaintiff appealed to the Superior Court. On March 22, 1969 pretrial orders were filed in which, among other things, the parties agreed upon the method of determining market value and stipulated that October 14, 1968 would be the control date for its determination. They further stipulated that defendants were to remain liable for real estate taxes until plaintiff took possession, or until determination of this litigation, whichever was sooner. The pretrial order set forth the only issue to be, "Fair Market
value of premises in question as of October 14, 1968." Such stipulations are generally binding on the parties. Housing Authority of Long Branch v. Valentino , 47 N.J. 265 (1966).
At the trial plaintiff's expert testified that the four buildings were worth a total of $50,500. Defendants' expert place the value at $82,000. The jury's verdict was for $64,500. In answer to the court's sua sponte inquiry, the jury determined that the four buildings were unoccupied between September 20, 1967 and October 14, 1968 because condemnation proceedings were imminent.
Partial judgments were entered on October 31, 1969 totalling the $64,500 awarded by the jury, plus the amount determined to be interest due totalling $6,535.50. The trial judge computed the interest on the awards from September 20, 1967 (date of blight declaration) to April 17, 1969 on the full amount of the verdicts, and on the excess over the deposit from April 17, 1969 to October 10, 1969 (date of jury verdict).
The trial judge then asked the parties to brief the issue, "Is the landowner entitled to be exempt from paying taxes from the date of the declaration of blight?" The trial judge ultimately determined the issue in the affirmative. Final judgments were then entered on December 12, 1969 covering the four properties:
Interest from 9/20/67 to 10/10/69 6,535.50
Reimbursement for taxes paid by defendants from
9/20/67 to 3/31/69 7,832.60
Interest thereon at 6% ...