Sullivan, Leonard and Carton.
This appeal involves the constitutionality of certain temporary zoning regulations adopted by the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission which placed a "freeze" on the use of 10,000 acres of land in the Hackensack Meadowlands.
The Meadowlands Commission was created by the New Jersey Legislature in 1968 for the purpose of overseeing the orderly development of the Meadowlands (N.J.S.A. 13:17-1 et seq.). The Commission was empowered to prepare and adopt "a master plan or portion thereof for the physical development of all lands lying within the district, which plan may include proposals for various stages in the future development of the district." N.J.S.A. 13:17-9.
The constitutionality of that act was upheld in Meadowlands Regional Development Agency v. State , 112 N.J. Super. 89, 122-124 (Ch. Div. 1970). That case is now before the New Jersey Supreme Court.
The Commission, in 1969, proposed resolutions establishing interim zoning regulations and other land use controls for the Meadowlands District. It then submitted these resolutions, as required by the act, to the Hackensack Meadowlands Committee, consisting of the mayor or chief executive or his designated representative of each of the 14 municipalities which include within their borders lands of the District. The Committee unanimously rejected these resolutions. However, on April 23, 1970 the Commission overrode the Committee's rejection and adopted the resolutions.
The Commission explained its adoption of the interim zoning and first stage master plan as opposed to a final plan on the following basis:
In the Declaration and Purpose of the Meadowlands Act, the New Jersey Legislature declares that comprehensive development of the Meadowlands "can no longer be deferred," and expresses fear that the "incalculable opportunity for new jobs, homes and recreational sites" represented by the Meadowlands "may be lost to the State through piecemeal and unplanned development." The rapid deterioration of the physical environment of the Meadowlands and the growing threat that disorganized patterns of development there might soon become irreversible explain the Legislature's evident intent that the Commission adopt and commence the implementation of a Master Plan for the Meadowlands District at the earliest possible moment.
The preparation of a Master Plan containing the components enumerated in the Meadowlands Act cannot be accomplished in a short time. Comprehensive studies have to be undertaken to enable the Commission to plan intelligently and effectively with respect to each of these components. The resources, contributions and requirements of the constituent municipalities, the State, and appropriate federal agencies must be identified and coordinated. Recognizing that the Commission would be unable to prepare a definitive Master Plan immediately after its creation, the Legislature expressly authorized it to adopt the Master Plan in portions and stressed that the Plan "may include proposals for various stages in the future development of the district." In accordance with this authorization, the Commission has decided to adopt the Master Plan in stages. By this means it seeks both to comply with the Legislature's direction to commence regulation of development within the Meadowlands as soon as possible, and to avoid the dangers inherent in the adoption of an ill-conceived or poorly coordinated Master Plan.
The present appeal deals with the interim zoning regulations relating to the establishment of "Planning Areas" within the District. These areas comprise some 10,000 acres in the District which allegedly are still so substantially undeveloped or free of a definite pattern of development as to allow for alternate uses of the land. Other areas of the District, described as "Development Areas," are more highly developed and in the Commission's view are not available for other uses.
The interim zoning regulations permit the following uses within the Planning Areas: (A) any use of land not involving the construction, use or occupancy of structures or buildings; (B) certain temporary uses as described in the resolution; (C) any use of existing but unused buildings or structures terminating within two years from the effective date of the resolution and complying with certain performance standards; and (D) signs, in accordance with conditions set forth in the resolution.
The following general uses are permitted subject to certain conditions and controls: Christmas tree sales in certain districts for a period not to exceed 60 days; contractor's office and equipment sheds; real estate offices; carnivals or circuses in specified districts for periods not exceeding three weeks; and promotional activities of retail merchants involving outside ...