Township of Manalapan v. Gentile

After a jury trial, the Township of Manalapan appealed the condemnation award in favor of defendants. The issue on appeal was whether it was error for the trial court to admit testimony that the condemned property’s highest and best use would require a variance without first determining whether there is a reasonable probability the variance would be granted. Citing precedent, the Court of the Appellate Division held evidence that risks misleading the jury into assuming a zoning variance for purposes of calculating a property’s value must not be admitted absent a judicial finding it is reasonably probable that the variance will be obtained. Therefore, the trial court erred by allowing the jury to consider testimony that the highest and best use of the subject property would require a variance without first confirming the probability of securing that variance.