Vickers v. Township Committee of Gloucester Tp.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
Citation181 A.2d 129,37 N.J. 232
PartiesHarold E. VICKERS, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE OF GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, et al., Defendants-Appellants.
Decision Date07 May 1962

Page 232

37 N.J. 232
181 A.2d 129
Harold E. VICKERS, Plaintiff-Respondent,
Supreme Court of New Jersey.
Argued Dec. 5, 1961.
Decided May 7, 1962.

Page 234

[181 A.2d 130] William C. Gotshalk, Camden, for defendant-appellant (Vincent L. Gallaher, Camden, attorney).

Milford Salny, Netcong, for plaintiff-respondent (Sidney D. Weiss, Woodbridge, on the brief).

The opinion of the court was delivered by


In this proceeding plaintiff Harold E. Vickers challenges the validity of an amendment to the zoning ordinance of the defendant Gloucester Township. This amendment prohibits 'Keeping, locating, establishing, maintaining or operating a trailer camp, trailer park * * *' in its industrial district. 1 After hearings, the Superior Court, Law Division, sustained the validity of the amendment. On plaintiff's appeal the Appellate Division reversed. 68 N.J.Super. 263, 172 A.2d 218 (1961). The township appeals to this court under R.R. 1:2--1(a).

On July 1, 1957 the township adopted a comprehensive zoning ordinance establishing Residence Districts 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' 'D,' a Business District, an Agricultural District and

Page 235

an Industrial District. The ordinance enumerated the uses permitted within all residence, business and agricultural districts, not mentioning trailer camps. The section regulating uses within the industrial district was drafted in different form; it permitted lands to be used and buildings to be erected for any lawful purpose with the exception of 41 specified uses. Trailer camps were not among the barred uses. By the terms of the ordinance dwellings which conformed to the requirements of the 'A' residence district were permitted in the industrial district, provided prior approval of the Board of Adjustment was obtained. 'A' residence district houses were required to be 'One-family detached dwellings' located on a lot not less than 75 by 125 feet with at least 800 square feet of usable first floor area.

On September 3, 1957 the township adopted an ordinance entitled 'An Ordinance to Regulate and Control Trailers, Trailer Coaches, Camp Cars and Trailer Camps in the Township of Gloucester.' (Trailer Ordinance.) The effect of this ordinance and the zoning ordinance was to repeal a 1947 trailer ordinance barring trailer camps in the entire township and to ban such camps in the residence, business and agricultural districts, but permit them in the industrial district. At present there are no trailer camps in the township.

In April 1959 this court decided Napierkowski v. Township of Gloucester, 29 N.J. 481, 150 A.2d 481, which concerned the validity of the zoning ordinance as it applied to trailers in residential districts. We held 'the provisions of the zoning ordinance prohibiting the location of trailers in residence districts * * * bears a reasonable relationship to the purposes of zoning as outlined in R.S. 40:55--32, N.J.S.A., and should be upheld.' Id., at p. 496, 150 A.2d at p. 488. We expressly left open the question of whether such uses could be completely[181 A.2d 131] excluded from the township. Id., at p. 497, 150 A.2d 481, 488.

On August 26, 1959 Vickers applied to the township for a permit to operate a trailer camp upon his ten acres of

Page 236

industrially zoned land which he had purchased in November 1957. While this application was pending, he acquired ten additional acres of land across the road from his prior holdings but still within the industrial district. The Township Committee denied his application in a letter dated December 8, 1959. As a result, Vickers instituted as action in lieu of prerogative writ on December 30, 1959, wherein he alleged he had complied with the Trailer Ordinance requirements and sought a judgment compelling the township to grant him permission to operate his proposed trailer camp. In their answer, the defendants stated that plaintiff's application was denied because his plans did not meet the requisite health standards and that the granting of the permit would be in violation of the zoning ordinance, subdivision ordinance and building code.

Much of the testimony introduced by the plaintiff at the trial on March 17, 1960, concerned his compliance with the requirements of the State Department of Health. Plaintiff also introduced evidence as to the characteristics of the township, particularly the area surrounding his property. This area is almost entirely in the industrial district (an 'A' residential district is not far from Vickers' lands) and is for the most part undeveloped. Several buildings ranging from dilapidated shacks to modest homes are situated in the immediate vicinity of plaintiff's property. There are no residential developments or industrial plants in this area, nor are there any between plaintiff's land and the Freeway which runs through the township and is about two miles west of the property. An expert called by plaintiff testified that plaintiff's land could be appropriately used as a trailer camp site and that such use would not have an adverse economic effect upon the neighborhood.

Apparently realizing during the course of the trial that his application and plans did not meet the required standards of the State Department of Health, plaintiff moved for an opportunity to amend his application and plans as submitted. The court granted plaintiffs motion and further

Page 237

allowed the township to 'take such administrative action and review what action they may be desirous of taking in the interim time, which means that the Court will hold this issue in abeyance until such time as those amendatory actions are taken on the part of both parties.' The trial was adjourned for an unspecified period.

The plaintiff's amended plans were submitted to the Township Committee at a meeting held on April 1, 1960. At that meeting the Mayor announced that a 'proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to exclude trailer camps is being submitted to the Planning Board for its consideration and comment at its next meeting, to be held April 5, 1960.' After this announcement the Committee meeting was adjourned until April 5, 1960, 'to take up any action regarding such proposed zoning ordinance amendment, and any other things that may be considered at the adjourned meeting.' At the Township Committee meeting held April 5, 1960, the amending ordinance barring trailer camps from the industrial district and an ordinance repealing the Trailer Ordinance were read for the first time. The Township Planning Board met and approved the amending ordinance on the same night. In a letter formally notifying the Township Committee of this action, the Planning Board stated:

'The Board believes that trailer camps do not contribute anything to the general appearance of the local scenery and do not enhance the use or value of the local real estate and, in fact, do have a directly opposite effect, that the areas where they may exist are prejudiced thereby, that real estate [181 A.2d 132] values instead of being preserved or enhanced, would be depreciated, that the establishment of such camps would retard and, perhaps, choke the development of real estate for the area. To permit trailer camps and camp sites would not be in the interest of the general welfare of the community. The Board, therefore, registers its approval of the amendment * * *'

This letter was read to the Township Committee at its next meeting which was held on April 22, 1960. At that meeting the zoning ordinance and the ordinance repealing the

Page 238

Trailer Ordinance were read for the second time and adopted by the Township Committee. The minutes disclose the following:

'Mayor Yost, Mr. Harrison and Mr. McCann in reply to statements and questions raised by the members of the public, stated, in substance, that the Township Committee in presenting the ordinance to amend the zoning ordinance was taking into consideration the over all planning for the township, present and future, and that the purpose of the amendment was to protect property values, both present and future, which might be adversely affected by a trailer camp, because a trailer camp is not attractive in appearance and that consideration must be given to the effect that such appearance would have on the development of the area in particular and the township in general.

Mayor Yost further pointed out that the township was in the heart of the Delaware Valley expansion that is taking place and that the township is growing fast and planning is necessary to cope with such growth.'

Since the result of the ordinances was to prohibit trailer camps throughout the township, plaintiff on May 5, 1960, filed a second complaint in lieu of prerogative writ demanding a judgment declaring the ordinances invalid and inapplicable to the use of his property as a trailer camp. In its answer the township contended it had the power to enact the ordinances under its zoning powers and general police powers.

The second action came to trial on June 20, 1960, before the same judge who heard the first case, and the actions were consolidated. The parties stipulated that plaintiff's amended plans satisfied the prerequisite health standards applicable to trailer camps, thus leaving as the primary question whether the township had the power to adopt the amendment prohibiting trailer camps from its industrial district, which in effect barred them from the entire township. Also in issue was the legal propriety of the procedure followed in adopting the amendment, the plaintiff contending the Planning Board did not have the opportunity to properly consider the amendment as required by N.J.S.A. 40:55--35.

Page 239

The testimony, zoning map and photographs submitted at the trial showed that the township is in the main a rural community of about 23 square miles in Camden County. However, the nature of the township is rapidly changing, it being in the throes of expansion. The...

To continue reading

Request your trial
89 cases
  • Southern Burlington County N.A.A.C.P. v. Mount Laurel Tp., A-35
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • January 20, 1983
    ...device in their zoning ordinances. Townships such as Mount Laurel that now ban mobile homes do so in reliance upon Vickers v. Gloucester, 37 N.J. 232, 181 A.2d 129 (1962), in which this Court upheld such bans. Vickers, however, explicitly recognized that changed circumstances could require ......
  • Taxpayers Ass'n of Weymouth Tp., Inc. v. Weymouth Tp.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • September 28, 1976
    ...(1973); Harvard Enterprises, Inc. v. Madison, Tp. Bd. of Adjustment,56 N.J. 362, 368, 266 A.2d 588 (1970); Vickers v. Gloucester Tp. Comm., 37 N.J. 232, 242, 181 A.2d 129 (1962), Cert. den. 371 U.S. 233, 83 S.Ct. 326, 9 L.Ed.2d 495 (1963); Ward v. Montgomery Tp., supra, 28 N.J. at 539, 147 ......
  • Fobe Associates v. Mayor and Council and Bd. of Adjustment of Borough of Demarest
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • March 23, 1977
    ...its adaptability to changing social conditions. Id., 71 N.J. at 265, 364 A.2d 1016, citing Mt. Laurel, supra; Vickers v. Gloucester Tp. Comm., 37 N.J. 232, 268, 181 A.2d 129 (1962), cert. den. 371 U.S. 233, 83 S.Ct. 326, 9 L.Ed.2d 495 (1963); Pierro v. Baxendale, 20 N.J. 17, 29, 118 A.2d 40......
  • 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 is to be sustained. See also Kozesnik v. Montgomery Twp., 24 N.J. 154, 167, 134 A.2d 1 (1957); Vickers v. Tp. Com. of Gloucester Tp., 37 N.J. 232, 242, 181 A.2d 129 (1962), cert. den. and app. dism. 371 U.S. 233, 83 S.Ct. 326, 9 L.Ed.2d 495 There is no per se principle in this State mand......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT