On January 23, New Jersey Appleseed filed a complaint on behalf of Radburn United, a community group that is asking for the state’s help in preserving the voting rights of those who reside there.
Founded in 1929 as one of the first planned communities in the United States, Radburn is a private, unincorporated association within Fair Lawn, with over 3,000 people living in a mixture of single-family homes, townhouses, two-family houses, and an apartment complex.
Like other common interest associations, Radburn is run by a board which acts like a local government in collecting fees from residents that it uses to maintain and operate Radburn’s community center, parks, walkways and other common properties.
Community associations must comply with a state law known as PREDFDA, for Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act, which is enforced by the NJ Department of Community Affairs, or DCA.
Last year, the NJ legislature unanimously voted to amend PREDFDA to bolster the voting rights of those who live in planned communities. Senator Robert Gordon, who represents Fair Lawn, was the chief sponsor of S-2492, which was signed into law on July 13.
Radburn United’s complaint, filed with the DCA, asserts that on May 17, just before the legislature voted on the bill, the Radburn board voted to amend the association by-laws in a way that would thwart the law’s democratic purpose.
The complaint says the by-law changes in May were intended “to preserve the power of the Original [board] Members, and to slow down the democratic and legally required transition to a board that would be elected under the provisions of the new legislation.”
Here is a press release about the case.
The complaint can be read here.