This One’s for the Bees: Farmland Assessment Act Inapplicable to Dual-Use Property Consisting of Cellular Tower and Beekeeping Activities

by:  Matthew J. Schiller

The Farmland Assessment Act of 1964 and the New Jersey Constitution allow for eligible farmland to be assessed at lower standards.  Specifically, under the Farmland Assessment Act, upon application, the value of land (over 5 acres) that is actively devoted for agricultural/horticultural uses for at least 2 successive years immediately preceding the tax year at issue, is to be assessed at a value for agricultural or horticultural uses. Certain minimal revenue generating requirements pertaining to the sale of agricultural/horticultural products produced on the property must also be shown.  The primary goals of the statute and constitutional amendment are to preserve “family farms” by providing “family” farmers with economic relief and to assist with the preservation of open space.   However, as set forth below, even if a property meets all of the standards of the Farmland Assessment Act, if it is also used for commercial purposes, the benefits of the statute may not apply.


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Landlords Have Duty To Maintain Premises Attractive To Tenants’ Customers

by: Katharine A. Muscalino

Although a landlord is generally required to maintain a leasehold in good condition, the Appellate Division has now clarified that the leasehold’s condition must make the premises attractive to tenants’ customers and assist in the tenants’ “in selling their wares and goods.”  In Wallington Plaza, LLC v. Taher, decided on July 7, 2011, the tenant vacated the premises upon one months’ notice, with six months remaining in the lease term.  The landlord demanded judgment in the amount of six months’ rent.  However, the tenant claimed that because the landlord had breached an implied covenant to maintain the shopping center in a good condition attractive to tenants’ customers, tenant was only obligated to pay rent for the time it occupied the premises.  Finding that the parking lot of the shopping center was run-down and that many of the other shopping center stores were vacant, the court agreed that landlord had breached this obligation.  The court held that tenant was responsible for paying two months’ rent, inclusive of its last month of occupancy following its notice, because the lease required two months’ notice of termination of the lease.