Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Southern Burlington County, NAACP v. Township of Mount Laurel case brief

Southern Burlington County, NAACP v. Township of Mount Laurel case brief summary
336 A.2d 713 (N.J. 1975)

CASE SYNOPSIS
The trial court found that defendant township had unlawfully excluded low and moderate income families from the municipality by means of its zoning ordinance, and declared the zoning ordinance void. Defendant challenged that finding in the Appellate Division (New Jersey), and plaintiff individuals cross-appealed the limitations of the trial court's order, but the court certified the appeals before argument in the appellate division.

CASE FACTS
A trial court found that defendant township had unlawfully excluded low and moderate income families from the municipality by means of its zoning ordinance, and ordered affirmative relief, which did not include provision for persons who were not residents.

DISCUSSION

  • The court certified the resulting appeal and cross-appeal prior to argument in the appellate court, and affirmed the judgment of the trial court, with modifications. 
  • The court found that under the zoning restrictions, only single-family homes and expensive multi-family housing could be built. 
  • The reason for this course of conduct was to keep down local taxes on property. 
  • While a municipality could consider that factor in its zoning decisions, it could not make it impossible to provide low and moderate income housing in the municipality. 
  • The court held it inherent in N.J. Constitutional art. I, para. 1, that all police power enactments had to conform to the basic constitutional requirements of substantive due process and equal protection of the laws. 
  • Further, its obligation to afford the opportunity for adequate low and moderate income housing extended at least to its fair share of the present and prospective regional need therefor.
CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, insofar as it found that defendant township had unlawfully excluded low and moderate income families through its zoning ordinance, and ordered the zoning ordinance modified by defendant. Defendant had to afford the opportunity for adequate low and moderate income housing at least to the extent of its fair share of the present and prospective regional need therefor.

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