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Crow v. Town of Westfield

Decided: January 9, 1948.

ELDRED R. CROW ET AL., PROSECUTORS,
v.
TOWN OF WESTFIELD ET AL., RESPONDENTS



On certiorari.

For the prosecutors, Thomas F. Hueston.

For the respondents, Snevily & Ely (Robert S. Snevily, of counsel).

Before Justices Bodine, Heher and Wachenfeld.

Wachenfeld

The opinion of the court was delivered by

WACHENFELD, J. This writ brings up for review a zoning ordinance amendment of the Town Council of Westfield changing a certain tract of property from residence "A" zone to residence "B" zone. Under the general zoning ordinance the former is restricted to single-family dwellings. In residence "B" zone two additional types are authorized: two-family homes appearing as one-family houses and garden apartments not over two stories high, limited to ten families per unit, with set-back, area and certain other restrictions.

Application was made to the Town Council of Westfield by Breton Woods Corporation to erect a garden-type apartment on the premises in question, which at the time were in residence "A" zone. Hearings were held on the application, at which full opportunity was given to all wishing to be heard. Thereafter this amendment was passed changing the particular premises to residence "B" zone.

The land in question comprises 11.6 acres of vacant, unimproved land bounded on the west by the line dividing Westfield from Scotch Plains, on the north by Brightwood Avenue, on the northeast by lots fronting on Embree Crescent, and on the southeast by lots fronting on Seneca Place. The surrounding area in Westfield is developed with one-family homes valued at different times between $5,000 and $14,000, while several blocks away there are homes valued up to $50,000. The neighboring area in Scoth Plains is zoned for residential and business uses.

The amendment was supported by many different groups. Thirteen property owners in the immediate vicinity, seven of whom almost abut the land in question, gave their approval. Various veteran organizations favored the change in order to alleviate the current housing shortage in the town. The local Board of Realtors approved the project. The Town Council

itself felt the erection of the garden apartments would establish an appropriate buffer against the less restricted uses of the neighboring township.

Opposition to the zoning amendment and development was voiced by a considerable number of residents of the neighborhood, some of whom live adjacent to the premises in question. They believed due to the large concentration of people and its transient nature property values would depreciate and the peace of the neighborhood would be disturbed.

Governing bodies of municipalities have been invested with power to enact general zoning regulations. R.S. 40:55-30. These regulations must be in accordance with a comprehensive plan to achieve specified purposes generally relating to the health, safety and general welfare of the community and with reasonable consideration to the character of each district, its peculiar suitability for particular uses, and with a view of conserving ...


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