Historic Radburn Assn: a second form of American political government

The appellate court of the NJ Superior court rendered its opinion in the Moore v. Radburn[i] case dealing with a number of legalities with respect to the application, wording and interpretation and construction of NJ statutes and the Radburn Declaration.  I will comment separately on the court’s opinion with respect to the application of democratic principles of government to this historic association. 

In reading this opinion, I was struck by the depth and extent of arguments and legalities relating to the governance of this territory, a subdivision under equitable servitude covenants, contrasting and comparing the Constitution, federal and NJ, the laws of NJ applicable to public entities, and the NJ condo/HOA acts and the private agreement Declaration.  The opinion is replete with references and citations to PREDFDA (Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act), N. J.S.A. (NJ statutes), and the Radburn Declaration of Restrictions, and the court’s reconciling conflicting or vague wording and intent. 

What was happening was the application of the Radburn “constitution” and state laws that recognized and protected these independent, private governments not subject to the laws of NJ governing all civil government entities.  In short, there was the acceptance and recognition of a second form of local political governance[ii], protected under special laws granting special immunities and privileges to the association.  And these special laws are allowed to conflict with civil government laws and democratic principals, especially under the basic misconception that private agreements can supersede the Constitution when it comes to HOAs.[iii]

Issues like, “it reflects the homeowners’ view that many residents want equal membership, especially given that they are compelled to support the community“, and “The trial judge concluded that, absent any specific legislative authority, he could not impose a strictly democratic nominating procedure” recognized and accepted this second form of local political government contrary to the “supreme law of the land.”

America is no longer under the rule of law, but under the rule of man when private parties are allowed to bypass the contract between the people and the government as set forth in the US Constitution.  The intent of that contract can be further found in the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, John Locke’s The Second Treatise of Civil Government, and more.


[i] Moore v. Radburn, A-4284-07T2, N.J. Super. App. Div, March 18, 2010 ( See  http://www.leagle.com/unsecure/ page.htm?shortname=innjco20100318252).

[ii] See generally, Government is defined by a “social contract”; HOAs by the new social contract, the CC&Rs.

[iii] See generally, Part 2 – Is there an ideal HOA constitution?

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Published in: on March 19, 2010 at 8:58 am  Comments (2)  
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  1. I’m one of the 16 individuals that sued the Radburn Association. Obviously, we’re very disappointed by the courts opinion. None of us in the lawsuit were given the association’s governing by-laws before purchasing our homes and the court knew that. The only reason people buying their houses now could know about this issue is that WE put the by-laws on the internet. The Radburn Association website only has the declaration of architectural restrictions but not the governing by-laws. Some people are still buying their homes not realizing that they have to pay “membership dues” but are not members. Radburn’s 2008 tax returns states that there are nine voting members and that the entire 1.3 million is collected from members. Obviously that’s not the case. We were told by the NJ Department of Community Affairs to seek help from the courts. Now the courts are telling us to go to the legislature. In the meanwhile, the residents go broke having no recourse against the self perpetuating board of trustees. Shameful this is happening in the US of A in the year 2010.

  2. Hi–

    I appreciate your attention to this matter. I was the attorney who brought this case,
    and of course I was disappointed by the court’s interpretation of the statute as to homeowner vs. member of the association, but I was also dismayed at its refusal to interpret the statute’s “election standards” in light of constitutional principles regarding nominations and elections as well its refusal to treat these entitles similar to public bodies for purpose of holding open board meetings. What you did not read–which was before the court–was the fact that actually 35 members rule a community of about 1,000 families. This is because only trustees and former trustees are members and only members who still live in the community can vote for their board members (an board members nominate all but 1 board member).

    This was a real disappointment since two of the Judges were known in the past not to be afraid of interpreting a statute in light constitutional principles when appropriate as is the case here.

    If you are futher interested I can send you our appellate brief below.


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