Last week, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Walter Barisonek ruled that Union Township’s business district was not blighted, contrary to the township’s designation of the area as such.
From the Star-Ledger:
Barisonek said the process the township used to designate Union Center as a redevelopment area was tainted by a conflict of interest involving Committeeman Joseph Florio and an attorney hired by the municipality.
Florio is also a member of the planning board but recused himself from voting on the matter. However, both he and the attorney offered opinions at a public hearing, pushing the planning board toward the redevelopment designation, the judge said.
“A damaged sidewalk, excessive signage, chipping paint … how is that dilapidated? How is that blight?” Barisonek said from the bench in Elizabeth in a decision that took an hour and a half. “This is why all of this is subjective.
“There must be overall deterioration,” said Barisonek. “More profitable use is not a reason for redevelopment.”
Unsurprisingly, the mayor is upset with the property owners who dared to defend their property rights in court.