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City of Trenton v. 222 West Associates Fund

May 13, 2002

CITY OF TRENTON, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
222 WEST ASSOCIATES FUND, SIDNEY SUSSMAN, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS, AND FUNB, AS CUSTODIAN FOR D.H. ASSOCIATES; FIRST NATIONAL STATE BANK OF SOUTH JERSEY, A NATIONAL BANKING ORGANIZATION, SUCCESSOR BY CHANGE OF NAME TO FIRST NATIONAL STATE BANK OF CENTRAL JERSEY; COLUMBIA SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATION, A CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, ITS SUCCESSORS AND ASSIGNS; 224 WEST STATE STREET CORPORATION, ITS SUCCESSORS AND ASSIGNS; AND PRENTICE REALTY COMPANY OF TRENTON, ITS SUCCESSORS AND ASSIGNS, DEFENDANTS.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, L-762-98.

Before Judges Baime, Fall and Axelrad.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Axelrad, J.T.C. (temporarily assigned)

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued: April 17, 2002

In this condemnation action, the property owner, 222 West Associates ("222 West"), appeals from the granting of summary judgment to plaintiff, the City of Trenton ("City"), valuing the property with a four and one-half story height limitation rather than the nine-story height contained in the preliminary approval.

The subject property, which contains a structure known as the Roebling Mansion, is located at 222 West State Street in Trenton. On September 19, 1985, the City passed ordinance 85-108, approving the Roebling Mansion Redevelopment Plan ("Roebling Plan"), declaring the subject property a blighted area. The Roebling Plan called for "[t]he construction of a commercial office building with parking in the rear of the building" and "[t]he rehabilitation of the existing building at 222 West State Street."

On September 4, 1987, the City passed Ordinance 87-67, approving an amended Roebling Plan which provided for the construction of a nine-story office building on the site with surface parking in the rear of the building. On September 10, 1987, the City granted preliminary site plan approval to 222 West "to construct a nine-story office building with a nine-story tower of 118,000 square feet attached to an historic three-story building of approximately 3,000 square feet for property located at 222 West State Street . . . ."

In l987 the Legislature adopted the Capital City Redevelopment Corporation Act ("CCRCA"), N.J.S.A. 52:9Q-9 to -27, to assist Trenton in its redevelopment plans. The Act expressly recognized that the "city of Trenton is of unique significance to the State and the nation, both as the State capital and center of State governmental operations," that it "lacks a demographic or commercial center of significant magnitude," and that the "city is in great need of redevelopment and revitalization." N.J.S.A. 52:9Q-10a & b. The Legislature further found and declared that:

d. It is a public purpose of this State to establish a capital district within the city and to create a redevelopment corporation operating within the boundaries of the district, which will plan, coordinate and promote the public and private development of the district in a manner which enhances the vitality of the district . . . . [N.J.S.A. 52:90-10d.]

The Legislature established in the Executive Branch the Capital City Redevelopment Corporation ("CCRC") in order to "plan, coordinate and encourage an appropriate balance of governmental and non-governmental facilities and activities in the district, and assist in the preservation of public, recreational and cultural facilities, in the preservation and restoration of historic structures and sites, and in the stimulation of private investment in the district . . . . " N.J.S.A. 52:9Q-10e.

The CCRC was statutorily mandated to adopt a twenty-year Capital City Renaissance Plan ("Renaissance Plan") to "guide the use of lands within the district in a manner which promotes the economic vitality of the district and enhances the quality of the public environment." N.J.S.A. 52:9Q-17a. The CCRC was required to develop the plan "in consultation with the State Building Authority, the planning board of the city of Trenton, and the planning board of the county of Mercer." N.J.S.A. 52:9Q-17b. Moreover, the statute required future compliance, providing that:

Upon adoption of the [Renaissance] plan, the planning board of the city of Trenton, the planning board of the county of Mercer, the State Building Authority, and any other governmental entities with plans affecting physical development within the district shall review and revise their plans to ensure that they are consistent with the Capital City Renaissance Plan. Any plan which affects the physical development of the district and is

adopted by any governmental entity after the adoption of the Capital City Renaissance Plan shall be consistent with that plan. [N.J.S.A. 52:9Q-17d.]

On October 30, 1989, the CCRC adopted the Capital City Renaissance Plan ("Renaissance Plan"). The Renaissance Plan contained recommendations for, inter alia, a four and one-half story limit for the area along State Street.

In accordance with the statutory dictates, on January 4, 1990, the City adopted ordinance 90-9, "TO AMEND CHAPTER XIX (ZONING AND LAND DEVELOPMENT) OF THE REVISED GENERAL ORDINANCES OF THE CITY OF TRENTON TO MAKE THE ZONING AND LAND DEVELOPMENT ORDINANCES COMPATIBLE WITH THE CAPITAL CITY RENAISSANCE PLAN . . . ." The ordinance included amendment 19-405D, providing for "Refer[ence] to ...


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