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4 N.J.A.R. 319

Berkeley Township, In Re
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Citation: 4 N.J.A.R. 319
Decision Date: 1980
Synopsis: Berkely Township sought a permit to construct an industrial park within the protected area of the Pinelands, as that area is defined in the Pinelands Protection Act, N.J.S./I. 13:18A-1 et seq. The administrative law judge assigned to the case found that the Township had expended $38,459 to cut, clear, grade and gravel the roads on the site of the proposed industrial park which qualified as physical improvement to the land and a substantial commitment of the town's funds to the project. In light of this, the judge concluded that the township had established that it was suffering an extraordinary hardship. While noting that he did not have to reach a conclusion on the issues, the judge determined that a compelling public need existed for the development of the project and that the project did not constitute peicemeal and scattered development. While the administrative law judge determined he could not conclude that the site was an eventual habitat for the endangered northern pine snake, he did conclude that the petitioner had failed to meet its burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that development on the site would not substantially impair this resource of the Pinelands. Accordingly, the judge concluded that the proposed project did qualify for approval under the applicable standards for determining extraordinary hardship; however, the application would be denied since it had not been established that the project would not impair a resource of the Pinelands, specifically, a potentially evential habitat for the endangered northern pine snake.