Shipman v. Town of Montclair, A--660

Citation16 N.J.Super. 365,84 A.2d 652
Decision Date21 November 1951
Docket NumberNo. A--660,A--660
CourtNew Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division

Ernest F. Keer, Jr., Montclair, for appellant (Boyd, Dodd, Keer & Booth, Montclair, attorneys).

Samuel Allcorn, Jr., Montclair, for respondents.


The opinion of the court was delivered by


The board of adjustment denied the plaintiff's application for a variance from Montclair's zoning ordinance to permit his construction of garden apartments within a one-family dwelling zone; thereafter the matter was reviewed in a proceeding under Rule 3:81--2 and the board's denial was sustained in a full opinion filed in the Law Division; and the present appeal is from the ensuing judgment.

The plaintiff is in the real estate business and has an interest in many buildings including apartment houses located in Montclair and East Orange. After considerable negotiation he entered into a contract dated June 7, 1950 for the purchase of a vacant tract of land which may be designated as 370 Orange Road. The premises are approximately 200 feet wide and 700 feet deep and the plaintiff proposes to erect garden apartments for 60 families together with parking facilities for 51 cars. The immediate neighborhood along Orange Road, namely, the six blocks between Grenada Place and Ward Place, is admittedly residential and most of the building are single-family owner-occupied dwellings although several are apparently being used by two or more families. There are several vacant lots in the vicinity, including the lot immediately south of the plaintiff's premises. Immediately north of the plaintiff's premises is a 38 family garden apartment which was completed late in 1950.

Prior to 1943 the area had been zoned for two-family detached or semi-detached dwellings. At that time there were extensive shifts of population resulting from the increased industrial activity incident to World War II and many communities including Montclair anticipated large increases in their population. To provide for their housing needs, sections of Montclair, including the area in which plaintiff's premises are located, were re-zoned from single or two family to multiple-family districts within which garden apartments could be erected. The 38 family garden apartment adjacent to plaintiff's premises was lawfully erected pursuant to this zoning change.

It soon appeared that the anticipated severe rise in population would not materialize and Montclair's population increased only slightly during the decade prior to 1950. Accordingly, Montclair's planning board made an extensive study to determine what zoning changes should be made in view of its relatively stable population and its desire to remain primarily as a single-family residential community. Numerous meetings were held culminating in a public hearing on April 13, 1950 to consider proposed changes in the zone map. These changes were designed to upgrade the south side of Montclair by increasing the residential land restricted to one-family use and by concentrating in the commercial area the decreased land permissible for apartment development. In the language of the town planner: 'On overall zoning the plan was to shrink the apartment districts in closer to and surrounding the central business district, and thereby utilize apartments by rebuilding and rehabilitating areas which are more subject to blight, and preserve the outlying areas for residential development in the more protected zones, and to protect the already existing development in those areas.'

On June 1, 1950 an ordinance amending the town's zoning ordinance and embodying the changes was introduced and was duly adopted thereafter. As a result the land which is the subject of the plaintiff's contract dated June 7, 1950 and its adjacent neighborhood were withdrawn from zone R--3 which permitted garden apartments and placed in zone R--1 which is confined largely to one-family dwellings. In September, 1950 the plaintiff applied to the building inspector for a permit to build his proposed garden apartments and his application was denied. He appealed to the board of adjustment for a variance but this was likewise denied because (1) application of the provisions of the ordinance would not 'result in peculiar and exceptional practical difficulties to, or exceptional and undue hardship upon, the owner of said property or the present appellant,' and (2) the requested variance could not be granted 'without substantial detriment to the public good and without substantially impairing the intent and purpose of the zone plan and the Zoning Ordinance of the Town of Montclair.' See R.S. 40:55--39, N.J.S.A.; Lumund v. Bd. of Adjustment of the Borough of Rutherford, 4 N.J. 577, 585, 73 A.2d 545 (1950); Brandt v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of the Township of Mount Holly, N.J.Super., 84 A.2d 18 (App.Div. 1951). He then filed his complaint before the Law Division and by consent depositions were taken by the parties. Although the complaint attacked the constitutional validity of the amendment of the zoning ordinance, that ground was abandoned by the plaintiff. Similarly, the plaintiff has abandoned any attack on the Law Division's use of the testimony taken in the course of the depositions. His sole ground of appeal pressed at the argument is that the findings and determination of the board of adjustment were arbitrary and unjustified and the Law Division erred in refusing to set them aside.

The testimony on the plaintiff's behalf was that he entered into his contract of June 7, 1950 without knowledge of...

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8 cases
  • Pascack Ass'n, Ltd. v. Mayor and Council of Washington Tp., Bergen County
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • March 23, 1977 here, see Leimann v. Board of Adjustment, Cranford Tp., 9 N.J. 336, 341-342, 88 A.2d 337 (1952); Shipman v. Town of Montclair, 16 N.J.Super. 365, 370, 84 A.2d 652 (App.Div.1951). In the same tenor, in part, was the report of the planning experts appointed by the trial court and the testi......
  • 801 Ave. C, Inc. v. City of Bayonne
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • March 5, 1974
    ...117 N.J.Super. 11, 283 A.2d 353 (Law Div.1971), certif. granted 62 N.J. 185, 299 A.2d 720 (1972). See also, Shipman v. Montclair, 16 N.J.Super. 365, 84 A.2d 652 (App.Div.1951). What invalidates this ordinance is the conceded intent of the municipal officials in enacting and administering it......
  • Izenberg v. Board of Adjustment of City of Paterson
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • June 2, 1955
    ...conclusion. See Lumund v. Board of Adjustment, Rutherford, 4 N.J. 577, 585, 73 A.2d 545 (1950); Shipman v. Town of Montclair, 16 N.J.Super. 365, 370, 371, 84 A.2d 652 (App.Div.1951). There was no proof before the board as to the 18,000 daily traffic count. The intersection is a busy one but......
  • Tidewater Oil Co. v. Mayor and Council of Borough of Carteret
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • July 1, 1964 p. 326, 139 A.2d 749; Kozesnik v. Montgomery Twp., supra, 24 N.J., at p. 173, 131 A.2d 1; compare Shipman v. Town of Montclair, 16 N.J.Super. 365, 370--371, 84 A.2d 652 (App.Div.1951). We conclude, therefore, that despite the economic suitability of Zone B for petroleum storage, Carteret......
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