By Joshua Burd
A group of property owners in Montclair has scored another victory in court, as it looks ahead to a hearing that could determine the fate of a hotly debated rent control ordinance in the town.
The landlords, who are challenging the ordinance, are awaiting a June 3 hearing that will determine whether a Superior Court judge will issue a permanent injunction against the measure. But the group announced Wednesday that Judge Jeffrey R. Beacham, sitting in Newark, has denied the township’s motion to vacate a temporary injunction that halted the implementation of the rent freeze on April 20.
“Today’s ruling is a vindication of our position that this ordinance needs a far greater level of scrutiny and consideration than was applied by the council upon its original passage,” said Charles Gormally of Brach Eichler LLC, the attorney for Montclair Property Owners Association and the petitioners. “Substantive questions prevailed over the township’s unsupportable arguments that it needed to pass this ordinance during the pandemic.”
The property owners and the recently formed Montclair Property Owners Association are seeking to halt the rent control measure until New Jersey’s state of emergency is lifted, which would allow them time to collect petition signatures for a referendum against the ordinance. They filed suit on April 15, a week after the township council adopted the ordinance, blasting the governing body for acting in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and while Gov. Phil Murphy had ordered millions of residents to stay home.