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Wadsworth v. Board of Adjustment of Township of Bedminster

Decided: February 5, 1951.

ELIZABETH B. WADSWORTH, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT OF THE TOWNSHIP OF BEDMINSTER, IN THE COUNTY OF SOMERSET, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND LESLIE M. APGAR, BUILDING INSPECTOR OF THE TOWNSHIP OF BEDMINSTER, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



On appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court, Law Division, in which Judge Daniel J. Brennan filed the following opinion:

Freund, Proctor and Rogers.

Per Curiam

The judgment is affirmed for the reasons expressed in the opinion of Judge Brennan in the court below.

"This is a proceeding in lieu of prerogative writ. The question for resolution is whether or not an enterprise devoted to the boarding of horses, instruction in horsemanship and recreational pursuits is a private school within the purview of a zoning ordinance which permits public school and private school use in the primary residence district.

"The pertinent facts are that the plaintiff acquired premises in the Township of Bedminster, Somerset County, which by the provisions of a zoning ordinance adopted by the Township in 1946, were situated in a primary residence district wherein the use of premises is restricted to residences and inter alia to schools.

"At or about the time the plaintiff acquired title she made application to the defendant Apgar, building inspector, for permission to use the premises as a day school and school of equitation. The intended use is one wherein plaintiff instructs children in horsemanship and supervises them in water sports and other recreational activities. The enterprise is entitled variously Chalet School of Equitation, Chalet Day Camp and Junior Equitation Club. It offers a year-round program for after-school and Saturday recreational activities for children of all ages above three years. For the program plaintiff boards horses of her patrons for a fee, making an allowance thereon to those who permit their animals to be used by her for instruction. Although the enterprise purports to be a school it is significant that the children who attend are in regular attendance in the public schools located in the surrounding area.

"On March 21, 1949, plaintiff applied to the building inspector for a permit for the intended use which was refused. On May 18, 1949, the refusal was sustained by the board of adjustment. In substance the plaintiff's contention is that the enterprise in the light of its activities is a private school within the intendment of the ordinance. The contention of the defense is to the contrary.

"There follows the pertinent language of the zoning ordinance, article IV, paragraph 3:

"'ARTICLE IV. USE REGULATIONS CONTROLLING RESIDENCE ZONES.

'In a residence zone, no building or premises shall be used and no building shall be erected or altered which is arranged, intended or designed to be used, except for one or more of the following uses: * * *

'3. Churches, libraries, public museums, public schools, and private schools.'

"Learned counsel for the plaintiff suggests the derivative advantages culturally and socially of a knowledge of the art and science of equitation. This argument seems to me quite beside the point. The legislative definition of private school is (R.S. 18:19-7), 'As used in this article: "Private schools" means a school attendance at which is a sufficient compliance with the compulsory education requirements contained in the State Statutes.'

"Learned counsel for the plaintiff also suggests that there is a poverty of definition of the word school even in such a well-known authority as Bouvier , but an examination of Bouvier (Rawles' Third Revision) discloses the definition of a school to be as follows: 'An institution of learning of a lower grade than a college or university. A place of primary instruction. As used in the American Reports, the term generally refers to ...


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