The city of Hackensack, N.J., has asked the NJ Supreme Court to determine whether a municipality seeking to condemn property must expressly find that the property is “blighted” in order to meet the constitutional eminent domain standard. It seeks to overturn an Appellate Division ruling that rejected the city’s plan to condemn two properties on the grounds that the ordinance passed by the city did not contain a finding of blight. The ordinance stated that the buildings were deteriorated to the point of being boarded up, their use was untenable, the parking lots were unusable and badly designed and that the properties were having a negative effect on surrounding properties.
The Appellate Division ruled that a finding of blight was mandated by prior court rulings. The city maintains that those ruling do not require an express finding of blight in every case. Hopefully, the NJ Supreme Court will provide more concrete guidance for future condemnations.