This is a zoning case submitted to the court under Rule 3:81-2. On June 16, 1948 Justice Joseph L. Bodine allowed a writ of certiorari in the New Jersey Supreme Court. A rule to show cause previously had been issued; depositions were taken by all the parties, which are voluminous and also there is an exceptionally large number of exhibits. This record, by stipulation at the time of the pretrial of this case, is submitted to the Court as constituting the record in the instant action.
The Court has considered the depositions and after a pretrial a further deposition was taken, as well as the several exhibits, briefs of counsel and all argument relating to the questions presented.
Many of the facts are undisputed. The plaintiffs are property owners and taxpayers of the Town of Bloomfield. Four of the plaintiffs own one-family residences on the south side of upper Broad Street, practically opposite the property in question; the other plaintiff owns a one-family residence south a few doors on Erwin Place from upper Broad Street. The plaintiff, Dr. Anderson, not only maintains his residence in his home at 1310 Broad Street but also conducts the practice
of medicine at that address. All of the plaintiffs' properties are in Block 1172 of the Tax Map of the Town of Bloomfield. Their properties lie within the small volume residential zone A as established under the zoning ordinance of the Town of Bloomfield, adopted November 17, 1930 and the amendments thereto.
Mr. John Hyde and G. Sidney Hyde, owned a tract of land designated on the Tax Maps of the Town of Bloomfield as Lots 9, 90 and 100 in Block 1231 except for a portion of Lot 9, hereinafter referred to, which said portion they conveyed to the defendant, Newark Theatre Building Corporation by deed dated April 10, 1948. All of the Hyde's property prior to April 5, 1948, including the portion conveyed to the Newark Theatre Building Corporation, lay within the small volume residential zone A and opposite the lands of the plaintiffs. Small volume residential zone A does not permit the use of property included therein for the purpose of theatres, stores and parking spaces.
On April 5, 1948 the defendant the Mayor and Town Council of the Town of Bloomfield adopted an ordinance amending this Zoning Ordinance heretofore adopted on May 1930 and subsequently amended twice, providing in the amendment of April 5, 1948 for the inclusion of a portion of Lot 9 conveyed by the Hydes to the defendant Newark Theatre Building Corporation in a medium volume business zone. This ordinance of April 5, 1948 does not change the classification of any other land except that directly conveyed to the Theatre Corporation. Uses permitted in the medium volume business zone includes among other things, "retail store, retail bakery, office, business or vocational school, bank, billiard room, gymnasium, undertaking establishment, bowling alley, miniature golf course, tailor shop, shoe shop, hand laundry, barber shop, beauty parlor, carpenter shop, stone or monumental works, tinsmith, plumbing shop, and automobile salesroom, theatre and parking lot for automobiles."
The plaintiffs claim that the amendment of April 5, 1948 aforesaid has caused a decrease in the value of their properties. The plaintiffs further contend that the action of the
defendant the Mayor and Town Council of the Town of Bloomfield, in adopting the ordinance of amendment of April 5, 1948 was unreasonable, arbitrary and illegal and that the said ordinance is illegal and void. The plaintiffs ask in this suit that the ordinance of April 5, 1948 adopted by the defendant, the Mayor and Town Council of the Town of Bloomfield be set aside.
The defendant Newark Theatre Building Corporation acquired the property in question from the Hydes by a deed dated April 10, 1948. This property was located in what is known as the Brookdale section of Bloomfield, which is a comparatively new section, rapidly developing, with the number of residences increasing with the construction of new one-family homes and garden type apartments.
The property in question was part of a tract of 32.34 acres of vacant land owned by John Hyde and G. Sidney Hyde and by their families since 1891. It was formerly farm land used for pasture. A part of the property in question had for some years been used as a golf driving range. There was a small building used in connection with the business of the golf range as well as a parking place off the street for the cars of customers of the range to park.
The Newark Theatre Building Corporation desired to buy a part of this tract for a theatre, stores and parking space. The contract was entered into between the Hydes and the theatre corporation on December 8, 1947. It carried a provision for cancellation in the event the seller did not succeed in having the tract rezoned.
The matter was presented to the Town Council of the Town of Bloomfield. On March 15, 1948 an ordinance was introduced for the purpose of placing the tract in a business zone. April 5, 1948 the city fathers held a public hearing on the ordinance and unanimously adopted it, despite vigorous protest presented at the said hearing.
On April 10, 1948 the Hydes, as I have already said, conveyed the tract rezoned to the Newark Theatre Building Corporation; a medium volume business zone was constituted at the intersection of Broad Street and West Passaic Avenue,
Bloomfield by an original zoning ordinance of November 17, 1930, amendment of April 5, 1948 to said ordinance is now under attack.
This intersection is a business zone like you find in any growing new community. You will find here approximately sixteen stores, with a barber shop, two beauty parlors, one hardware store, one luncheonette, two dry cleaners, one drug store, two food stores and two delicatessens, one dry goods store and one stationery store and two gasoline stations, a branch of the Bloomfield Savings Bank and a branch of the Bloomfield post office.
On the upper Broad Street boundary of the business section, on the south side of the street, is Erwin Place, which is the first block beyond the aforesaid intersection. Prior to April 5, 1948 the boundary of the business section on the north side of upper Broad Street was the easterly line of Erwin Place extended across Broad Street westerly. Beyond Erwin Place on the south side of upper Broad Street is a small volume residential ...