New Jersey’s most prominent transit authority is being taken to court over their alleged stymieing of a mixed-use project that would rise next to one of Morris County’s busiest train stations.
Late last month, the Parking Authority of Morristown filed a lawsuit against NJ Transit in Morris County’s Chancery division. The litigation revolves around a surface parking lot for commuters situated directly in front of the town’s train platform, which has seen several mixed-use developments rise around it over the last two decades.
While NJ Transit has a 72-parking space easement on the lot, the lawsuit claims town officials have been negotiating a deal to redevelop the land with Bijou Properties. They envision a four-story project dubbed Morristown Station consisting of approximately 84 residential units, 1,980 square feet of retail, and 123 parking spaces.
After officials approved a redevelopment plan for the endeavor in 2018, the complaint says NJ Transit has demanded a $2.6 million payment for the right to develop the land. The filing claims NJ Transit later reduced the demand to a $1 million upfront payment and future considerations of $100,000 each year for fifty years in exchange for its consent to the project.
Morristown says NJ Transit’s requirement is an “unlawful reading and interpretation of a certain easement on [the] property” that has “essentially stymied the redevelopment of the area.” The case additionally argues that the payment issue is preventing Morristown from fulfilling its constitutional affordable housing obligation “by imposing unreasonable demands.”
The lawsuit is seeking a declaration that Morristown and Bijou are permitted to construct the project as long as they provide 72 parking spaces within the development to NJ Transit per the easement agreement.
A spokesperson for NJ Transit told Jersey Digs that the agency “does not comment on pending litigation.” A trial date to hear the case has not been set.