Challenge to Redevelopment Bonds Untimely

by: Joseph Grather
29 Dec 2015

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently affirmed dismissal of a property owner’s challenge to a municipal ordinance that authorized issuance of $6.3M in municipal bonds to fund redevelopment of the famous Edison Battery Building in West Orange, N.J. Opinion here.  The owner’s group filed their challenge 53 days after final publication of the bond ordinance.  The Supreme Court held “that a challenge to a redevelopment bond ordinance must be filed within twenty days of the final publication of the ordinance in accordance with Rule 4:69-6(b)(11), barring the most extraordinary of circumstances, which are not present here.”

The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal on timeliness grounds even though the owner’s group complained that the Clerk’s improper denial of a referendum petition was partially to blame for their failure to file a timely court action, or at least should have tolled the limitations period.  That argument was rejected by the Court because a bond ordinance is not subject to referendum challenge.  And, in light of that ruling, the property owners were simply out of time to directly challenge the bond ordinance. (And for whatever reason, the owners failed to ask the lower court to enlarge the time period in the interests of justice.)

As Justice Holmes once said; “If a man neglects to enforce his rights, he cannot complain if, after a while, the law follows his example.”