Marini v. Borough of Woodstown

Decision Date16 December 1976
Citation146 N.J.Super. 235,369 A.2d 919
PartiesDolores MARINI et al., Petitioners-Respondents and Cross-Appellants, v. BOROUGH OF WOODSTOWN, Respondent-Appellant.
CourtNew Jersey Superior Court — Appellate Division

Lawrence W. Point, Woodstown, for appellant Borough of Woodstown (Acton & Point, Woodstown, attorneys).

G. Thomas Bowen, Salem, for cross-appellants Marini and Cross, t/a Woodstown Cake Shop (G. Thomas Bowen and Arthur T. Vanwart, II, Salem, attorneys).

Andrea Kahn, Deputy Atty. Gen., for Department of Community Affairs (William F. Hyland, Atty. Gen., attorney; Erminie L. Conley, Deputy Atty. Gen., of counsel).



Defendant Borough of Woodstown (Borough) appeals from a final decision of the Director of the Division of Housing and Urban Renewal, Department of Community Affairs, awarding relocation assistance payments to petitioners pursuant to the Relocation Assistance Act (N.J.S.A. 20:4--1 Et seq.).

Hilda Montaigne was, in 1973 and for many years prior thereto, the owner of the lands and buildings involved herein which are situate in the borough. For 15 years petitioners, Dolores Marini and Frank Cross, trading as the Woodstown Cake Shop, rented the building from Mrs. Montaigne at a rental of $175 a month. The land beside and behind the building was leased to the borough and served as a parking lot. Because Mrs. Montaigne was advancing in years and in order to insure the continued use of the lands for a municipal parking lot, officials of the borough approached Mrs. Montaigne on or about August 6, 1973 seeking to purchase the land which the borough was then leasing. Mrs. Montaigne agreed to sell, but only if all the lands and building were purchased. Agreement was reached between the parties and, on November 26, 1973, a deed conveying the lands and premises to the borough was delivered.

Petitioner Marini testified that though she had been told by Mrs. Montaigne of the sale of the lands to the borough, she had not been informed where to pay the rent and did not pay any. In March 1974 the borough instituted an action to recover the rent due on the building, as a result of which Mrs. Marini paid all rent due and continued to pay the rent through July 1974.

On March 29, 1974 the borough served petitioner with a notice to vacate the premises on August 6, 1974. She opened negotiations with the borough, claiming entitlement to relocation expenses under N.J.S.A. 20:4--1 Et seq. (the Relocation Assistance Act) and N.J.S.A. 52:31B--1 Et seq. (the Relocation Assistance Law of 1967). During the course of the negotiations Mrs. Marini was notified that she had 'until July 20, 1974 to find a suitable location and submit bids for any relocation services or materials which (she) may need under N.J.S.A. 52:31B,' and was offered assistance in finding a new location.

Petitioner failed to move by the indicated date but at a later time obtained estimates of the cost of moving the bakery, which estimates ranged from $9,000 to $11,000.

Petitioner Marini and three other people lived in rooms over the bakery and all moved out of the rooms, incurring some expenses in doing so, but Marini remained in the bakery.

The borough thereafter determined that they had no need of the property for public purposes, and since Marini was having difficulty in relocating, the notice to quit was withdrawn on October 29, 1974. The notice stated that the 'month to month tenancy at the rental of $175 per month with tenant paying water and sewer excess may continue.'

The bakery equipment continues to remain on the premises, but it is not being operated. There is evidence that the building is substandard and could not pass the health inspection for the year 1974.

By letter dated November 12, 1974 petitioner sought and obtained a hearing before the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, to determine 'the extent of the Borough's responsibility for Mrs. Marini's expenses * * *.'

At the termination of the hearing the final decision of the Commissioner ordered that:

(1) Relocation assistance payments were to be paid by the borough to petitioners;

(2) The borough was to have credit against such payments for back rent owed by petitioner for the period during which petitioner's goods remained on the property;

(3) Petitioner should be paid the costs of travel, phone calls and other incidental expenses, and

(4) The borough should pay petitioners Marini and Lester Ford household relocation expenses of $250 each.

The borough appeals from (1), (3) and (4). Petitioners have cross-appealed from (a) the allowance to the borough of a credit for the unpaid rent and (b) the failure of the Commissioner to award attorney's fees.

The Relocation Assistance Law of 1967 (N.J.S.A. 52:31B--1 Et seq.) provided for relocation assistance to persons required to vacate real property or a tenancy therein, pursuant to any lawful order or notice of any state agency or unit of local government on account of the acquisition of any real property for a public use, a program of law enforcement or a program or project for the voluntary rehabilitation of dwelling units. N.J.S.A. 52:31B--3(e). Such relocation assistance, however, is limited to $200 in the case of an individual or family and $3,000 in the case of a business concern. N.J.S.A. 52:31B--4(c).

In 1970 Congress passed the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, 42 U.S.C.A. § 4621 Et seq. In order to be eligible for federal financial assistance for a program that will result in the displacement of any person, state agencies must be able to provide relocation assistance according to the federal scheme. 42 U.S.C.A. § 4630.

The federal act authorizes relocation assistance payments to persons displaced as a result of the acquisition of real property for a federal program far exceeding the limitations in N.J.S.A. 52:31B--4(c). 42 U.S.C.A. § 4622. Moreover, the federal act does not limit relocation assistance to situations where there has been a condemnation of real property in the exercise of the eminent domain power, but authorizes such assistance even when displacement results from the acquisition of real property by voluntary transfer. 42 U.S.C.A. § 4621 Et seq.

In order to comply with the federal directive and to be eligible for federal financial assistance to programs causing the displacement of persons as a result of the acquisition of real property, the New Jersey Legislature passed the Relocation Assistance Act, N.J.S.A. 20:4--1 Et seq., in 1971. Introduced to the Legislature as Assembly Bill 2320 on April 1, 1971, the bill had appended to it a statement indicating:

The purpose of this bill is to permit New Jersey to comply with the provisions of the new Federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisitions Policy Act of 1970 (Public Law 91--646). The Federal Act requires that states be able to offer substantially the same relocation benefits and...

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2 cases
  • Owens v. City of Phoenix
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals
    • November 15, 1994
    ...incident to relocation after property is taken for public use is moving date of displaced person); Marini v. Borough of Woodstown, 146 N.J.Super. 235, 369 A.2d 919, 922-23 (App.Div.1976) (claimant must have physically moved off of property to constitute "displaced person" entitled to reloca......
  • Foreign Auto Preparation Service v. New Jersey Economic Development Authority
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court — Appellate Division
    • May 16, 1985
    ...210, 62 L.Ed.2d 136 (1979); McNally v. Middletown Tp., 182 N.J.Super. 622, 442 A.2d 1075 (App.Div.1982); Marini v. Borough of Woodstown, 146 N.J.Super. 235, 369 A.2d 919 (App.Div.1976). Next we address NJEDA's contention that FAPS was not a displaced person. After carefully studying the app......

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