On application for a writ of mandamus.
For the relator, Julian C. Harrison.
For the respondents, Thomas L. Zimmerman, Jr.
Before Justices Case, Donges and Porter.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
PORTER, J. The relator has a rule to show cause why a peremptory or alternative writ of mandamus should not issue directing the village of Ridgewood and the superintendent of buildings of the village of Ridgewood to issue a permit to her for the erection of certain proposed buildings on her land in the said village. It was later stipulated that the rule to show cause is to be considered as though an alternative writ had been granted and that the matter proceed on that basis.
From the testimony it appears that the type of buildings which the relator seeks permission to build is a group of four buildings, each two stories in height, subdivided by fireproof walls, each with a common heating and hot water plant, consisting in all of one hundred and fifty-eight rooms made up of fifty-two apartments of two, three and five rooms each. The buildings are planned so that there is a central lawn and garden space called an "interior court" and driveways. It is the purpose to rent these properties and they are used precisely as apartment houses of the unit-type, the owner supplying certain services and utilities to each tenant. It is called a "Rental Housing Development" or duplex apartments. It is also referred to as "Garden-Type Apartments."
The pertinent question presented is whether the use of this property by the erection of such type buildings was prohibited by the zoning ordinance in effect when the application for the permit was made. It seems to us that it was not.
The property in question is located on the northeasterly corner of Heights road and Ridgewood avenue.
The testimony is that the highest use to which this land could be used is for apartment dwellings. It is not marketable for either single or two-family dwellings, nor for business establishments. There are a few business places in the immediate vicinity, but no more are needed nor likely to be in the near future.
A body known as the "Planning and Park Commission of Ridgewood" after a comprehensive study of the needs of the village with technically trained advisors made a report to the authorities which was published on May 1st, 1930. It made recommendations for zoning the village and in its report said: "The new zoning scheme is based on the well-founded theory that in Ridgewood there should be places for everything the village needs or desires, but that everything should be kept in its proper place. It is also based on the most modern practices and the latest laws and court decisions. It will assure the provision of ample light and air in every building; plenty of open spaces on lots; reasonable height limits and no uses of private property which will be detrimental to the village."
After public hearings were had a zoning ordinance was adopted on April 14th, 1931. The said property of the relator was zoned as recommended by the commission for "local business and apartment uses."
It appears that when it became known that the relator proposed building, petitions of protest were filed with the city commissioners and on the evening of the meeting of the commission when the application for the permit was formally denied a hastily drawn ordinance amending the zone in which this property is located, by prohibiting the erection of apartment houses therein, was introduced, given a first reading and at a later date adopted.
Clearly this was an eleventh-hour attempt to prevent this relator from using her property for its highest use and for which it had been zoned for seven years, during which time its assessed value had been substantially increased because it was so zoned. Such action was ill-advised, capricious and unreasonable. It was doubtless precipitated because of public excitement and clamor. Some ...