Complex Environmental Issues Affect Townhomes, Homeowners Association
- On September 18, 2017
Our lawyers handle a wide range of commercial litigation including matters of complex environmental problems. A homeowner’s association representing the owners of approximately 64 townhomes came to the firm for help in solving a very difficult environmental problem. A portion of the common areas owned by the homeowner’s association was built on a capped landfill. While the landfill had not accepted refuse for at least 30 years, there was an alarming increase in the presence of methane gas emanating from the capped landfill and contaminating the area of the townhomes. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection filed an administrative action requiring the homeowner’s association to remediate this dangerous condition.
The portion of the landfill now owned by the homeowner’s association was part of a larger landfill upon which a shopping center had been built. The lawyers at DEMLP researched the title to the property, took the time to visit the County Clerk’s office to document and photograph the chain of title pursuant to certain property record indices, and learned that the owners of the shopping center had given the previous owner of the landfill a release and indemnification agreement which would cover the remediation of this landfill. Litigation ensued wherein the homeowner’s association sought complete indemnification from the landlords of the shopping center to satisfy the requirements of the DEP and remediate the methane gas condition that existed from the landfill. As the litigation progressed, the lawyers at DEMLP asked the Court to find as a matter of law that the indemnification and release language given by the previous owner controlled the issue. The Court ruled that it did.
As a result of this ruling and negotiations by the lawyers at DEMLP, the landlords have contributed well into the seven figures to remediate the methane gas problem and create a fund to maintain the landfill into the future. The homeowner’s association problem has been solved and their property values protected.