New Jersey's Site Remediation Reform Act

     The following entry was written by Burton J. Jaffe, Esq., a real estate attorney resident in Fox Rothschild's Princeton office.  Burt can be contacted at (609) 895-6630 or at


     On November 3, 2009 the Site Remediation Reform Act, NJSA 58:10C-1 et seq. (the “Act”) becomes effective. The Act materially changes the role of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) with respect to the remediation of contaminated property in New Jersey.

     The Act changes the role of NJDEP from direct supervision of the remediation of contaminated sites to a compliance, enforcement and monitoring role of independent professionals conducting such work. The professionals must be licensed by the Site Remediation Professional Licensing Board which is established in NJDEP. The Board’s mandate is to establish licensing requirements for site remediation professionals and to oversee the licensing and performance of site remediation professionals.

     Additionally, the Act requires the NJDEP to inspect all documents and information submitted by a licensed site remediation professional, authorizes NJDEP to review the performance of a clean up under a broad range of circumstances (NJDEP can audit a clean up for up to three years after its conclusion) and mandates that NJDEP undertake direct oversight of contaminated sites under certain conditions and authorizes, but does not require, NJDEP to undertake direct oversight under certain other conditions.

     The purpose of the Act is to improve the speed of site clean-ups and the Act is carefully designed to accomplish this purpose without lessening the stringent remediation requirements already in place in New Jersey.

Constructing Solar Panels On Capped Landfills - Can You Turn a Negative into a Positive?

Several South Jersey communities are exploring the feasibility of solar panel projects on land formerly used as landfills. In a time of economic downturn, the notion of “turning lemons into lemonade” can take on many faces. Although the headlines have been dominated recently with health care related issues, energy issues and the “Green” movement appear to have some staying power. While constructing solar panels is believed to be a viable source of alternative energy, obtaining an approval from the state and local governments for such facilities is not without its challenges. Navigating the extensive regulatory landscape governing solar energy is a delicate balance of public and private concerns. The tightening of the credit markets over the past year has diminished the available capital for such projects; however with care and consideration a project may qualify for grants and incentives from state and federal agencies.

The Borough Council of the Borough of National Park (Gloucester County) recently passed a resolution designating a prospective redeveloper of a closed landfill on property formerly utilized for the disposal of demolition material and local household waste. The parcel is the only undeveloped tract of land in National Park Borough.   As noted by the article published in the August 23, 2009 edition of The Gloucester County Times, although the project is in its infancy stages it appears to have the support of the local community.  According to the proposal submitted by Westfield Energy, the prospective redeveloper, the former landfill could eventually house a 30-acre field of solar panels as well as over 130,000 square feet of office and retail space with an increasing focus on environmentally sustainable buildings.  

It is noteworthy that last fall, Governor Corzine unveiled New Jersey’s latest Energy Master Plan which would provide the blueprint for the state’s energy policies for the next decade. If you need a crash course or even a refresher, follow this link and continue to the bottom of the page for an article by Steven Goldenberg, Esq. of Fox Rothschild LLP which was published in the June 2009 edition of the Mercer Business Journal


Solar panels present an additional method of reducing a building’s carbon footprint and possibly even generating some much-needed revenue for the property owner or the local government. A similar proposal is in its informal stages in Mullica Township which is also in Gloucester County. There, township officials are pursuing a plan to lease a portion of a former garbage dump so that it can be used for a solar farm. The proposed site is located at the highest point in the township which makes it an attractive location for a solar park due to the significant amount of unimpeded access to the sun. 


Among the many considerations that must be given to the proposed development of a solar farm, the interplay between public and private parties and agencies is very important. Whether the developer is a private property owner versus a designated redeveloper or a redeveloper designated by a municipality to redevelop land in a blighted condition is an important factor. Another factor is the extent to which the subject property is environmentally contaminated. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has varying standards for the amount of environmental contaminants permitted to remain in the soil depending upon the type of development taking place above ground. For example, the soil quality for a residential subdivision would be more stringent than the required soil quality for a solar park. Furthermore, the cost of construction is always a consideration, and who bears the cost depends the public versus private nature of the developer. Public/private partnerships have been successful. 


There are a whole host of considerations that must be given, but the fact that these projects are even being considered is a plus.   Whether these solar projects ever reach construction and completion remains to be seen. Nonetheless, it presents an opportunity to make some lemonade which hopefully will be tasty, healthy, and maybe even profitable enough for all to benefit.

Purchaser of Commercial Property Found to be Liable for Payment of a Broker's Commissions Where the Purchaser Obtained the Seller's Interests Under a General Assignment of Leases and Rents

In a recent decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that the purchaser of a commercial property may be liable for the payment of a broker’s commission which was due under leases assumed by the purchaser pursuant to a general assignment executed at closing. 

In Pagano Company v. 48 South Franklin Turnpike  (decided March 9, 2009), the Court applied its prior holding in VRG Corp. v. GKN Realty Corp., 135 N.J. 539 (1994) which held that to incur liability by virtue of an assignment the purchaser must have “affirmatively assumed” the seller’s obligations to pay the commissions, to require that a purchaser honor a commission agreement even without a separate, express agreement to pay such commissions. 

The leases at issue were executed with the Seller due to the Plaintiff's brokerage efforts.  Because each of the leases included a provision that in the event of the sale of the building the purchaser would assume and carry out all of the covenants and obligations of the landlord, the Court agreed with the trial court's reasoning the purchaser had affirmatively assumed the obligation to pay the Plaintiff's commissions.


The decision can be viewed by clicking on the following link: