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Michael B. Kates

E-mail MeMichael B. Kates

Hackensack, New Jersey

Michael B. Kates is a partner of the firm. He specializes in municipal law and, zoning and planning, representing municipalities, zoning and planning boards, a wide range of developer interests, neighbors in opposition to deleterious development, redevelopment projects, and environmental groups. He sits on the prestigious Technical Review Committee of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, which authored the Municipal Land Use Law and is advisory to New Jersey Legislature. He is also a contributor to the definitive text on the subject, New Jersey Zoning and Land Use Administration by Cox & Koenig, and he has served as an adjunct professor of Rutgers University, Center for Government Services. In 2003, he became General Counsel to New Jersey Planning Officials, a State-wide organization of municipalities, planning and zoning boards, and land use practitioners, primarily engaged in educational programs for members of land use agencies. Today he is General Counsel Emeritus.

Mr. Kates also specializes in chancery litigation, constitutional litigation and individual rights. He participated in the formation of Advance Housing, Inc., a consortium of mental health agencies in Bergen County which develops supportive housing alternatives for the mentally ill, principally with Federal and State grants. His partner, Bruce L. Nussman, is now General Counsel to Advance Housing.

Mr. Kates is the author of "An Ethical Lapse and its Effect on a Municipal Contract",Municipal Law Review , Volume 17, No. 2 (June, 1994); "Pop Quiz: Spot the Poison Pill', Conflict of Interest", New Jersey Law Journal , January 25, 1993 (133 N.J.L.J. 236); "Civilian Complaint Review Boards - A Prototype", Municipal Law Review , Vol 14, No. 1 (March 1992); "Private Clubs Which Discriminate: Can Liquor Licenses be Withheld by the Municipality?", Municipal Law Review , Vol. 12, No. 4 (December 1990); and "Public Relations and Public Information Services - To Bid or Not to Bid', Municipal Law Review , Vol. 12, No. 4 (December 1990).

A graduate of Colgate University (B.A., 1964), Mr. Kates received his Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers University, School of Law, in 1967. He served a legal clerkship in 1967-68 with the Hon. Theodore W. Trautwein, Superior Court of New Jersey. He served on the Ethics Committee, District VI (Hudson County), by appointment of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, 1988-92; and is a member of American Bar Association, New Jersey State Bar Association and Bergen County Bar Association. Mr. Kates is also a member of the Bars of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Kates is a past-president of Jewish Family Service of Bergen and North Hudson, and past-president of J-ADD, an organization providing Kosher homes for the developmentally disabled.

Mr. Kates represented homeowners in arbitration proceedings against Brunelleschi Construction, LLC, which had contracted to renovate a home in Tenafly, New Jersey at a cost of $200,000+. The homeowners were awarded $857,894 by the arbitrator against Brunelleschi, as well as HGTV "Kitchen Cousins" John Colaneri of Ramsey and Anthony Carrino of New Jersey, who were principals or employees of Brunelleschi. The arbitration award on July 23, 2015 included the costs to remediate and complete the home improvements, as well as damages for consumer fraud.

Year Joined Firm

  • 1969

Areas of Practice

  • Municipal Law
  • Zoning and Planning
  • Chancery Litigation
  • Constitutional Litigation
  • Individual Rights

Bar Admissions

  • New Jersey, 1968
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit, 1984
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1989


  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey School of Law - Newark, Newark, New Jersey
    • J.D. - 1967
  • Colgate University
    • B.A. - 1964

Published Works

  • An Ethical Lapse and its Effect on a Municipal Contract, Municipal Law Review, Volume 17, No. 2, June, 1994
  • Pop Quiz: Spot the 'Poison Pill' Conflict of Interest, New Jersey Law Journal (133 N.J.L.J. 236), January 25, 1993
  • Civilian Complaint Review Boards - A Prototype, Municipal Law Review, Vol. 14, No. 1, March, 1992
  • Private Clubs Which Discriminate: Can Liquor Licenses be Withheld by the Municipality, Municipal Law Review, Vol 12, No. 4, December, 1990
  • Public Relations and Public Information Services - To Bid or Not to Bid, Municipal Law Review, Vol 12, No. 4, December, 1990

Representative Cases

  • Kinderkamack Road Associates, LLC v. Mayor and Council of Borough of Oradell, 421 N.J. Super. 8 (App. Div. 2011)

    Representing Oradell Mayor and Council, the Court sustained the Mayor and Council’s determination that granting a use variance to landowner for use of landowner's residential lot, which adjoined landowner's commercial lots, as a buffer so that landowner could satisfy setback requirements for proposed development of commercial lots for pharmacy with drive-through window facilities, would cause substantial detriment to the public good and would substantially impair the intent and purpose of zone plan and zoning ordinance. The Borough's master plan sought to preserve and enhance the primarily residential character of the existing neighborhood by restricting incompatible land uses in established residential areas. The landowner's proposal would allow a business enterprise to encroach upon residential zone by effectively removing all residential uses for landowner's residential lot, and proposal would move commercial uses ten feet closer to a residence on another residential lot not owned by landowner and would allow more intensive use of landowner's commercial lots.

  • Robinhood Plaza, Inc. et al. v. City Council, Jersey City, Unreported, Law Division 2015

    The firm’s client is developing 500 Summit Avenue, adjacent to the PATH Station at Journal Square in Jersey City. Litigation commenced on behalf of the client in 2010, alleging unequal and arbitrary mistreatment in rezoning its property. That litigation resulted in a settlement with the City, which called for amendment of the Journal Square 2060 Redevelopment Plan. That amendment gives Robinhood Plaza a height allowance, from 25 stories to 42 stories, in exchange for the dedication of some of its property for a public park, and other considerations. The City Council amended the Redevelopment Plan to conform to the changes in zoning but, after a municipal election, refused to implement a final step – vacating a small portion of a public street to conform to the Redevelopment Plan. On a motion to enforce litigant’s rights, the trial judge concluded that the City could not use as a defense that a future governing body cannot be bound by its predecessor when the subject is implementation of a redevelopment plan, and that, in any case, 'equitable estoppel' precluded the City from disavowing its contractual commitment to Robinhood Plaza. The court concluded that Robinhood Plaza suffered 'manifest injustice' due to the voluntary conduct.

  • Avery v. Brunelleschi Construction

Honors and Awards

  • New Jersey Super Lawyers, 2009 - 2016
  • AVVO Rating 2016- "Superb" (9.3/10)

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • District VI (Hudson County) Ethics Committee, Member by appointment of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, 1988 - 1992
  • American Bar Association, Member
  • New Jersey State Bar Association, Member
  • Bergen County Bar Association, Member
  • Jewish Family Service of Bergen and North Hudson, Past President
  • UJA Association for Developmental Disabilities, Past-President

Past Employment Positions

  • Law Clerk to the Hon. Theodore W. Trautwein, Superior Court of New Jersey, 1967 - 1968