Slip Sliding Away: NJ Supreme Court Rules That Condominium Has No Duty To Clear Snow And Ice From Public Sidewalks

by:  C. John DeSimone, III

 It has long been settled common law that commercial landowners have a duty to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks abutting their land, but that residential landowners have no similar duty (Stewart v. 104 Wallace Street). In Luchejko v. City of Hoboken, decided on July 27, 2011, the New Jersey Supreme Court described the commercial/residential dichotomy as a bright-line rule. Commercial landowners have a common law duty to clear snow and ice from abutting public sidewalks, residential landowners do not. The Luchejko Court held that a residential condominium building, because it is residential, does not have a common law duty to clear snow and ice from abutting public sidewalks. The Court found that the form of the property ownership, in this case, a corporate condominium entity, did not subject the Association to the same liability that would have fallen on a commercial landowner. In doing so the Court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff's personal injury action at summary judgment. The Court also held that the management company, as the agent of the Association, owed no duty to the plaintiff and affirmed its dismissal.

Is Your Driveway A Principal Use?

by:  Greg Ricciardi

According to the  New Jersey Supreme Court, in certain circumstances the answer is yes.  On June 16, 2011, the Court held that a driveway is a principal use where, pursuant to local zoning, the driveway does not meet the definition of an accessory use.  Moreover, depending on the circumstances, you may need difficult to obtain and costly variances to get your driveway approved.  How could this happen?

The answer lies in the curious case of Nuckey v. Borough of Little Ferry Planning Bd.  These are the facts. A developer owns multiple lots and wants to build a hotel.  One of the lots has no highway access. To remedy this issue, the developer proposes to build a driveway on an adjacent lot that would continue across the corner of another lot owned by the same principals as the developer.  This proposed driveway would provide the needed highway access for the hotel.  Sounds like a simple accessory use right? Herein lies the rub. 


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Are You Sure Noah Done It This Way? Biblical Ark Meets Modern Day Building Codes

by:  Peter J. Gallagher

Although the much talked about rapture did not come to fruition last week, there is one big sign  – emerging out of the waters in the Netherlands — that the apocalypse may still be near.  As the New York Times recently reported in its story, "A Biblical Blueprint Meets The Fire Code And The Neighbors," Johan Huibers, a successful contractor in the Netherlands, has spent the last few years building an ark identical to the one Noah built.  As it nears completion, the ark is 300-feet long, 450-feet high, and 75-feet wide.  (The Bible used “cubits” as its form of measurement, which is the distance between ones finger tips and elbows, but Huibers translated this to modern measurements.) 

While Huibers has stuck as closely as possible to the original plans — including by using Swedish pine, which he contends is what the Bible refers to when it describes Noah’s ark as being made of “resin wood” — he has had to include modifications like a heavy steel frame to comply with modern safety requirements.  As the Times notes, these modifications are not the only differences between Huibers’s efforts and his biblical predecessor’s efforts:


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