On Wednesday, December 12th, the New Jersey State Appellate Court made an important decision regarding the licensing of aeronautical facilities (airports, heliports & helistops) in New Jersey. The decision upholds the power of the NJDOT Commissioner of Transportation to over-rule local governing bodies in regard to aeronautical facility licensing decisions. This court case involved a helistop sought by Mr. Donald Trump in Colts Neck Township. In summary, Mr. Trump was denied a variance for the helistop by the Colts Neck Zoning Board of Adjustment. Other necessary approvals or permits were issued by the NJDOT, FAA & County. The issue decided by the courts was, who has the final authority for the licensing of an aeronautical facility, the Commissioner of Transportation or local government?
At the NJ Superior Court level (this is the trial court in NJ) , Colts Neck Township prevailed. On appeal to the NJ Appellate Court, the Superior Court decision was reversed and the Appellate Court found that it is the Commissioner of Transportation who has final authority under NJ law for the licensing of aeronautical facilities. This authority, however, could only be excercised after paying "due attention to the lawful zoning provisions of local governments" and not acting in an unreasonable fashion so as to arbitrarily override important and legitimate local concerns.
This decision upholds and affirms the key elements of decades old prior case law (Garden State vs. Bay) wherein the Commissioner of Transportation was previously cited as the final authority to approve, or disapprove, the licensing of aeronautical facilities in NJ.
This is an important and very positive decision for aviation advocates and the owners/operators of aeronautical facilities.
A full copy of the official 17-page NJ Appellate Court decision can be downloaded from the following web address:
In closing, permit me to note that L.R. Kimball is a full-service solution provider with a diverse client base that includes public and private organizations; federal, state and local government agencies; as well as private industry organizations. Since 1953, L.R. Kimball's continuous growth and success is the result of a talented work force, technical diversification, geographic expansion and an established reputation for delivering high-quality services. Additionally, you should know that L.R. Kimball closely tracks and monitors project permitting, project financing, regulatory, statutory and case law changes that may impact our clients or their projects. The L.R. Kimball webpage can be found at:
If you have any questions or wish to learn more about L.R. Kimball, please feel free to call me at 609-638-9525.
Thomas Thatcher AICP, PP, CFI