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Sunday, September 13, 2015

WILLIAM W. LISOWSKI, ET AL. VS. BOROUGH OF AVALON AND STATE OF NEW JERSEY TIDELANDS RESOURCE COUNCIL/ STATE OF NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION VS.TOWNSHIP OF DELANCO A-0065-13T1

WILLIAM W. LISOWSKI, ET AL. VS. BOROUGH OF AVALON AND STATE OF NEW JERSEY TIDELANDS RESOURCE COUNCIL/
STATE OF NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION VS.TOWNSHIP OF DELANCO

          A-0065-13T1/ A-3947-13T2
The 1981 amendment to the New Jersey Constitution, N.J. Const. art. VIII, § 5, ¶ I, required the State to specifically define and assert its claim to tidelands within forty years after the land was no longer tidal flowed. No legislative action was taken to establish a procedure the State should follow to satisfy the delineation and assertion requirements. In 1983, the Supreme Court decided Dickinson v. Fund for the Support of Free Public Schools, 95 N.J. 65, 84 (1983), addressing challenges to the validity of the Amendment and the methodology employed by the State to define and assert its tidal claims. Although the Supreme Court broadly described the constitutional imperatives, it did not define with particularity a procedure that was constitutionally required. However, the Court held compliance with the arduous procedures dictated by Title 13 to map the meadowlands was not required and that the State had satisfied constitutional requirements as to claimed areas shown on a particular exhibit, P-13, that were accompanied by base photomaps with claim overlays. Further, the Court repeatedly acknowledged that the exercise of administrative authority in this context is entitled to deference.
Some thirty years after Dickinson, these appeals challenge the sufficiency of the State's effort to delineate and assert its claims to certain tideland property within the time restriction established by the Amendment. Both Lisowski and Delanco challenge the sufficiency of the State's proofs that it provided timely notice of its claim and, in Delanco, the Township also challenges the methodology used in delineating the claim.
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Finding Dickinson dispositive, we reverse the order granting summary judgment to the Lisowskis, clearing their title. We affirm the order in Delanco, based upon the holdings in Dickinson and City of Jersey City v. Tidelands Resource Council, 95 N.J. 100 (1983), and the principles underlying our deference to administrative decisions as exemplified by City of Newark v. Natural Resource Council in Department of Environmental Protection 82 N.J. 530, cert. denied, 449 U.S. 983, 101 S. Ct. 400, 66 L. Ed. 2d 245 (1980).