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Closterman v. Township of Cranford

Decided: October 16, 1952.

WILLIAM C. CLOSTERMAN, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
TOWNSHIP OF CRANFORD, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS, AND THE H.A. WILSON COMPANY, A CORPORATION, DEFENDANT



McGeehan, Bigelow and Smalley. The opinion of the court was delivered by Smalley, J.s.c. (temporarily assigned).

Smalley

This is a zoning case. Plaintiffs contest the validity of an ordinance passed in the Township of Cranford on April 10, 1951 amending its zoning ordinance as to a specific parcel of property whereby the area was rezoned from Residence "A" District to Industrial District. They appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court, Union County, affirming the action of the defendant township.

The questions they present are:

Firstly, did the amending ordinance conform with the statutory procedural requirements in view of the fact that:

(a) there is conflicting testimony regarding the length of one of the boundary lines, whether it is 1,911.80 feet or actually 1,191.80 feet, which conflict was not resolved by the court below; and

(b) the description of the rezoned property, both in the advertisement of the ordinance and in the ordinance, was indefinite, and, in any event, not sufficiently clear to protect the rights of parties interested under R.S. 40:55-35; and

(c) the date when the ordinance was adopted on first reading was stated in the advertisement thereof as March 27, 1951, whereas such first adoption took place on February 13, 1951.

Secondly, was the enactment of the said ordinance the result of arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable action on the part of the township committee?

Thirdly, the court below erred in its affirmance of the validity of the above-described ordinance.

A similar ordinance was passed on December 29, 1950 but apparently it was conceded by the defendants that this ordinance was invalid and the ordinance of April 10, 1951 was introduced and passed to eliminate certain technical defects encountered at the time that the first ordinance was passed on December 29, 1950.

The lands in question have been in a Residence "A" District since the year 1922 and are still vacant. The tract is bounded on the west and south by vacant lands owned by the Union County Park Commission. It is bounded on the east by what appears to be a sparsely built area which is zoned in Residence "B" (two-family zone). It is bounded on the north by the Lehigh Valley Railroad, its tracks running along this boundary for a distance of approximately 1,900 feet.

The record indicates that this tract of some 34 acres was the remaining portion of a farm of some 312 acres owned for many years by the Sperry family and that for the last 20 years the owners have endeavored without ...


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