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City of Newark v. Martin

Decided: October 7, 1952.

THE CITY OF NEWARK, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
JOHN V. MARTIN, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



Eastwood, Goldmann and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Goldmann, J.A.D.

Goldmann

On and before July 10, 1951, defendant conducted a parking lot at 341 Washington Street, Newark, located in an area zoned as a Second Business Zone by the Newark zoning ordinance adopted January 8, 1930. Section 7 of the ordinance (as amended July 23, 1930 and May 15, 1940) prohibited the use of any building or premises in such a zone as a "public garage." Section 1, "Definitions," provides that:

"(aa) The term 'public garage' shall be construed to mean any building or premises in which a business, service or industry connected with motor vehicles is conducted or rendered, and shall include all premises used for motor vehicles either housed or unhoused, excepting automobile salesrooms conducted exclusively for the exhibition of not more than twenty vehicles."

On October 15, 1951, defendant was convicted in the Municipal Court of the City of Newark and fined $200 for

conducting a parking lot on the premises in question on July 10, 1951, in violation of section 7 of the zoning ordinance. He appealed to the Essex County Court where the conviction was reversed on the ground that a parking lot is not a public garage. 19 N.J. Super. 328 (Cty. Ct. 1952). The court indicated that the language of the definition of "public garage" was ambiguous and left to implication whether or not the clause "and shall include all premises used for motor vehicles either housed or unhoused" was intended to include parking lots. It held that if it were the intent to interdict by ordinance the conduct of a parking lot, the ordinance would have so stated.

There is no ambiguity in the language of section 1 (aa) in its application to parking lots. The significant words of the definition of "public garage" are:

"any * * * premises in which * * * service * * * connected with motor vehicles is * * * rendered, and shall include all premises used for motor vehicles * * * unhoused, * * *."

The word "premises" includes within its purview a vacant lot, and is not confined, as the defendant argues, to structures. The definition speaks of "any building or premises," clearly indicating that the word "premises" is not limited to a building or buildings.

The court below stressed that the term "parking lot" "connotes an operation that is distinct from any other business connected with the sale, repair or servicing of automobiles." The phrase "service * * * connected with motor vehicles" is not to be limited to the "servicing of automobiles" in the sense that the trial judge apparently used the word "servicing," viz. , the providing of gasoline, oil, grease and tire service, and the like. Providing open-air parking facilities is a "service * * * connected with motor vehicles," within the definition of the ordinance.

The definition expressly includes within the meaning of the word "premises" used in the first clause, all premises used for unhoused motor vehicles. It must be concluded

that the ordinance clearly prohibited defendant's operation of a parking lot without first having obtained a variance ...


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