Civil action in lieu of prerogative writ.
On November 10, 1949, the Borough Council of the Borough of Hopewell adopted a zoning ordinance which placed the lands presently owned by the defendant, Allen B. Cox and the adjoining lands of the plaintiffs within the bounds of the R-3 Residence District. At the time the ordinance was adopted, there was erected on the lands of Cox a building containing five garages used for the storage of school busses, a private automobile repair shop and a one pump service for the sale of gasoline.
The premises were purchased by the defendant Cox in May of 1951. On July 26, 1951 he applied to the Zoning Administrative Officer of the Borough of Hopewell for a permit in which he stated: "Application is hereby made to change use of No. 17-19 Model Ave., Lot No. 42, Block No. 28, Zone R-3 * * * to be used as a grocery store * * * by the addition of 4 windows at an estimated cost of $2,000.00," which application was accompanied by a letter dated July 25, 1951 which reads:
I propose with your permission, to convert each of the remaining garages (4) to retail stores; i.e. , two, to be immediately occupied by a grocer, who will in all probability need a third within a year. The architectural pattern to follow the present store window illustrated in the accompanying photograph, inspired by the architectural dignity of Palmer Square in Princeton. All signs and advertising are to be restricted to the proprietors name and identity of his business."
From the photograph it appears that one garage has already been converted into a store. There is no stipulation, allegation or testimony as to when the first garage was changed or altered into a jewelry store as shown on the photograph.
The administrative officer refused the permit and disapproved the application by reason of article 8, section 802 of the Zoning Ordinance.
The defendant Cox then made application to the Zoning Board of Adjustment of Hopewell Borough of August 17,
1951 for a change of use of his property at 17-19 Model Avenue by altering four garage stalls to stores by the installation of store windows and change of partitions. Objections were entered by the plaintiffs in this cause, but the application was granted. However, no further action was taken until the meeting of the board of adjustment on August 27, 1951, when the application granted at the previous meeting was rescinded and there was further discussion and testimony presented. As a result of this meeting a resolution ...