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Joseph Comprelli, M&J Comprelli Realty, LLC, Joseph Supor Iii, J. v. Town of Harrison

May 7, 2012

JOSEPH COMPRELLI, M&J COMPRELLI REALTY, LLC, JOSEPH SUPOR III, J. SUPOR & SON TRUCKING & RIGGING CO., INC. AND S&B REALTY CO., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
TOWN OF HARRISON, THE TOWN COUNCIL OF THE TOWN OF HARRISON, AND PAUL J. ZARBETSKI, CLERK OF THE TOWN OF HARRISON, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Docket No. L-3169-10.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued: September 21, 2011 -

Before Judges Cuff, Waugh and St. John.

Plaintiffs Joseph Comprelli, M&J Comprelli Realty, LLC, Joseph Supor III, J. Supor & Son Trucking & Rigging, Co., Inc. and S&B Realty Co. own property in Harrison proximate to the PATH station and the Red Bull Arena on which they operate surface commercial parking lots. In 1988, plaintiffs received permission from the Town of Harrison Planning Board to operate a commercial parking lot. In 1993, plaintiffs received their first license for 145 parking spots. By 2008, the number of spaces increased to 1050. When the Town of Harrison (the Town) issued a license in 2010 for 198 spaces, plaintiffs commenced an action in lieu of prerogative writs. Judge Hector R. Velazquez granted defendants' motion to dismiss. We affirm.

Plaintiffs operate a surface parking lot at 1000 Frank E. Rogers Boulevard in the Town. They have operated this parking lot since 1988.

The Town adopted ordinances in September 1992 imposing a 15% tax on all commuter parking fees and in 1993 requiring annual licensure of commercial parking lots. On March 2, 1993, the Town modified its procedures and adopted a set of ordinances that detailed the process for public parking applications, renewals, insurance requirements, and other items, and instituted the annual licensure of commercial parking lots.

In 1997, the Town initiated an investigation to determine if certain areas were in need of redevelopment. On September 4, 1997, the Town Council passed Resolution 19354 designating plaintiffs' property as part of an area in need of redevelopment. On November 16, 1998, the Town passed Ordinance No. 994, adopting the "Harrison Redevelopment Plan" (the Plan). Relevant to this case, the Plan changed the zoning of the area where the property is located to permit only "structured parking and movie production studios . . . ." The Plan acknowledged the amount of area dedicated to surface commercial parking and recommended that commercial parking needs should be provided by structured parking in accordance with delineated design standards.

On July 1, 2003, the Town adopted Ordinance No. 1077, amending the Plan. The amended Plan continued to prohibit surface parking as a principal permitted use, but provided:

Interim uses may be established subject to agreement between the developers and the Planning Board that such use will not have an adverse effect upon existing or contemplated development during the interim use period of up to (3) years in duration. Additional renewals of an interim use may be granted by the Planning Board. Upon demolition of existing structures, and compliance with all the developers' obligations under the Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA), the site shall be graded, planted, sodded, landscaped, and/or paved with a durable dust fee surface in the interim period to construction of new buildings.

Surface parking as an interim use is permitted. Surface parking shall be screened from public view by garden walls and/or decorative fending.

Where surface parking is developed as an interim use, the block perimeter, (sidewalks, street trees, fencing, lighting, etc.) shall be designed to the established standards.

Plaintiffs and others filed a complaint in lieu of prerogative writs in August 2001, Pathparc Assocs. v. Town of Harrison, challenging the 1998 Plan. They alleged the area in need of redevelopment designation violated the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law (LRHL), N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-1 to -73; the 1998 Plan was arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable; the designation of the redeveloper violated the LRHL, was arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable; and the Plan was part of an unreasonable scheme by defendants to acquire private property for private gain under the pretext of the LRHL. Plaintiffs also alleged the Town made no effort to work with property owners who wished to retain their property, and the designation denied plaintiffs their rights to procedural and substantive due process. The complaint was dismissed as time-barred, and this court affirmed. Pathparc Assocs. v. Town of Harrison, Nos. A- 3417-01 and A-3641-01 (App. Div. Apr. 23, 2003) (slip op. at 3, 16-17).

Meanwhile, from 1993-2009, plaintiffs continued to operate the lot and seek yearly license renewals as required by the March 2, 1993 ordinance as codified in the Harrison Municipal Code, Chapter 5.72 Public Parking Lots. The Town issued licenses to plaintiffs annually; similarly, the number of spaces plaintiffs were licensed to operate increased steadily. For example, plaintiffs received their first license in July 1993 for 145 spaces. From 1994-1999, plaintiffs received licenses to operate 145 spaces. In 2003, the Town issued ...


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