Zoning Dispute To Continue in State Court

Posted on February 2nd, 2017

Ansell Grimm & Aaron recently secured a victory for its client, Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, permitting it to continue its fight in state court.  For the past decade, Raceway Park has been involved in a zoning dispute with a neighboring property owner, Dayalbagh Radhasoami Satsang Association of North America (DRSANA), over its plans to build a house of worship and accompanying residential facilities near the famed drag strip.

The matter was before the Old Bridge Township Zoning Board of Adjustment for more than five years and has been the subject of battles in both state and federal courts.

For its part, DRSANA sought to limit all wrangling over its plans and the Zoning Board’s decision to federal court by entering into a consent decree seeking to resolve all issues; including Municipal Land Use Law challenges typically subject to state court review.  Raceway Park’s attorneys filed objections to the approval in state court which DRSANA argued were precluded by the federal consent decree.  In March of 2015, a judge of the Middlesex County Superior Court dismissed Raceway Park’s suit with prejudice finding the consent decree foreclosed the action.

Raceway Park appealed and on January 6, 2017, a three judge panel of the Appellate Division reversed the dismissal permitting the action to proceed in state court.  Among other things, the Appellate Division considered whether the federal court consent decree served as an “end run” around the state court prerogative writ process for challenging zoning decisions; as Raceway Park was not a party to the federal case or the decree.  The Appellate Division also concluded that the trial judge abused his discretion in dismissing the action with prejudice.

Raceway Park is represented by Ansell Grimm & Aaron partner, Joshua S. Bauchner, and by Michael R. Leckstein and Marc A. Leckstein of Leckstein & Leckstein LLC.

Ansell Grimm & Aaron attorneys regularly represent clients in pursuing their property rights against public and private incursion.  For additional information, please contact Joshua S. Bauchner, Esq. (jb@ansellgrimm.com) at (973) 247-9000.