Senior Citizen Housing Developments: An Anniversary

Today, we are all used to the existence of senior citizen housing developments.  Thirty five years ago, however, it was not so clear that such developments were legally permissible.  On this date in 1976, the Supreme Court of New Jersey decided two companion cases that upheld such developments as both constitutional and within the power of municipalities to permit under then-applicable land use law (the cases preceded the current Municipal Land Use Law, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1 et seq.).  The main opinion was Taxpayers Ass’n of Weymouth Tp. v. Weymouth Tp., 71 N.J. 249 (1976).  The companion case was Shepard v. Woodland Tp. Comm. and Planning Bd., 71 N.J. 230 (1976).  Justice Pashman wrote the opinions for a unanimous Court, reversing decisions of the Appellate Division in each case.

In Shepard, there was a dissent in the Appellate Division.  That dissent was penned by Judge Alan Handler.  In reversing the Appellate Division majority, the Supreme Court cited that dissent with approval.  Within a few years, Judge Handler would become Justice Handler, one of the Court’s true scholars.