Civil action in lieu of prerogative writ.
This is a zoning case brought by an objecting property holder to review and set aside a variance granted by the Town Council of the Town of Bloomfield on the recommendation of the board of adjustment for a variance as to the structure and use of certain property, acting pursuant to the statute, R.S. 40:55-39(d). The provision of the statute applicable permits the granting of a variance to allow a structure or use in a district restricted against such structures and uses in particular cases and for special reasons.
The proceedings grow out of a housing development known as Hearthstone Village, promoted by one Saul T. Ligham through a corporation known as Economy-Built Homes Corporation on property known as the Van Riper Farm, which property was purchased by that corporation by deed dated October 25, 1949, which is in evidence.
The tract contains 84 lots, exclusive of the property which is the subject of the variance. The development is shown upon a map entitled "Hearthstone Village, Property of Economy-Built Homes Corporation, Bloomfield, N.J., dated February 1, 1950, Theodore R. Freund, Surveyor." This map is marked exhibit P-1 in evidence. It includes the part of the property subject to the variance and has endorsed upon it the approval of the Planning Board of the Town of Bloomfield under date of February 14, 1950, and acceptance by the Town Council of the Town of Bloomfield as of February 20, 1950.
The tract in question is located on the east side of Broad Street, Bloomfield, just north of Watchung Avenue. The property which is the subject of the variance is a tract of land which on its southerly line runs along the properties fronting on Watchung Avenue, running east from Broad Street, these properties for a considerable distance being about 100 feet in depth. The property in question lies close to the intersection of Broad Street and Watchung Avenue, and narrows sharply into a triangle, having a frontage of 450 feet on the east side of Broad Street, a depth of 423 feet
on its northerly boundary, and on the third side running along the rear of the properties fronting on the north side of Watchung Avenue for a distance of approximately 600 feet. An 84-feet portion of the property, which is nearest the intersection of Broad Street and Watchung Avenue, is already located in a medium-volume business zone on which, at the present time, there is located a fruit, vegetable and flower market known as the White Way Stand. Adjacent thereto but not on lands of the defendant, Ligham Construction Company, there exists a diner, and on the corner of the intersection, a gasoline station.
The proposed layout for the improvement of the property, for which the variance was granted, is shown on a map dated April 12, 1950, and entitled "Proposed Broad Street Business & Parking Area, Property of Ligham Construction Company" and is marked exhibit P-2 in evidence.
Just previous to the application for the permit for the improvement of the property in question, the Economy-Built Homes Corporation conveyed the property which has just been referred to to the Ligham Construction Company which is also controlled by Mr. Ligham. That company is a defendant in this action, and the plaintiff in this action, George B. Ward, is the owner of premises on Highfield Road which runs off the westerly side of Broad Street, opposite the proposed parking area which is to be developed under the variance. The Ward property is the second one in from Broad Street.
It is stipulated in the pretrial order that Saul T. Ligham is an officer and representative in this action of the Ligham Construction Company and the Economy-Built Homes Corporation, and that he is the active agent for the development of the property owned by the two corporations.
The proposed development under the variance is to construct a large building for stores fronting on Broad Street on the 87 feet in the business zone and 252 feet additional in the adjacent zone which is restricted to one-family houses. The ...