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Random Notes on NJ Government

Bridgewater’s ordinance amendment may have mooted property owner’s zoning enforcement lawsuit.

On September 3, 2015, I wrote an article about a Bridgewater Township (Somerset County) man’s lawsuit that sought to compel the Township Zoning Officer to cite his neighbor for not clearing his property of “dead and dying trees, stumps, roots and obnoxious growths.”

On October 27, 2015, Judge William D’Annunzio granted Bridgewater Township’ and Zoning Office Marie L. Broughman’s summary judgment motion and dismissed Coulter’s complaint. The order along with the parties’ summary judgment briefs are on-line here.

Unfortunately, Judge D’Annunzio didn’t issue a written decision and instead stated his findings and legal conclusions orally.  But, it appears that his decision was at least partially based on the Township’s post-lawsuit municipal code amendment that expressly permits property owners to leave “brush, dead and dying trees, stumps, roots or other natural debris” on their properties as long as it resulted “from a hurricane, tornado or other natural disasters or Acts of God.”

By John Paff

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project