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Maier v. Mayor and Council of Borough of Mountain Lakes

Decided: December 17, 1954.

LOUIS MAIER, ET UX, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
MAYOR AND COUNCIL OF THE BOROUGH OF MOUNTAIN LAKES, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



Clapp, Jayne and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Jayne, J.A.D.

Jayne

[33 NJSuper Page 310] In the year 1925 the Belhall Company was the owner for development purposes of a tract of land in the Borough of Mountain Lakes and on May 26, 1925 filed in the Morris County Clerk's office an approved map entitled

"Map No. 2, Property of the Belhall Company, Borough of Mountain Lakes, Morris County, New Jersey." The map disclosed the lakes within the boundaries of the tract and delineated and identified numerically the surrounding lots and plots.

On September 9, 1925 the Belhall Company conveyed by deed to the Borough of Mountain Lakes those portions of its property designated on a map previously filed on July 15, 1916 and on Map No. 2 to which reference has been made, as "Mountain Lake," "Wildwood Lake," the lake or pond lying between Boulevard West and Mountain Lake, sometimes known as the "Reservoir," and the waterways connecting the "Reservoir" with Mountain Lake and Wildwood Lake with Mountain Lake, "including the dams, walls and artificial embankments connected therewith and also the three tracts of land shown upon the first above-mentioned map and thereon designated as 'Public Beach.'"

The conveyance was made upon the express condition that the designated lakes, waterways, and beaches should be maintained by the borough perpetually "for the free use by the property owners and residents of the Borough of Mountain Lakes."

It is of immediate importance to observe that the deed also embraced the following reservation:

"* * * Subject , however, to the right of the party of the first part, its grantees , successors or assigns, to build docks or boat houses, or both in said lakes in front of land now owned by it; and subject to the right of the present owners of land fronting upon said lakes and waterway, their heirs, successors and assigns, to free access to and use of the said Lakes and Waterways and the right to build docks, or boat houses or both in said Lakes in front of their respective lands. * * *" (Italics supplied.)

On May 31, 1950 Marion G. Burkhard and his wife, the owners of lot No. 98, Block J, contiguous to what may be called the southerly embankment of Mountain Lake, conveyed their lot by metes and bounds description to the plaintiffs.

It may be inferred that the plaintiffs were profoundly interested in having the right to the unimpeded access to the lake from their property, for on July 5, 1950 they obtained from the North Jersey Liquidating Corporation a deed conveying to them all the right, title, and interest in lot No. 98 of the North Jersey Title Insurance Company of which the Belhall Company was a subsidiary; another deed from the Burkhards on October 31, 1950, and one from the trustees in dissolution of the North Jersey Liquidating Corporation on November 30, 1950 conveying to them all the right, title, and interest of those grantors "in and to the land lying between the flow line of Mountain Lake and the westerly boundary lines of Lot No. 98, Block J, as shown on" Map No. 2.

It is also disclosed that on July 5, 1950 the North Jersey Liquidating Corporation conveyed to Sanders and Brackin, a body corporate, all the remaining estates and interests of the North Jersey Title Insurance Company and of the Belhall Company in the tract, and the corporate grantee, Sanders and Brackin, on August 8, 1951 conveyed to the Borough of Mountain Lakes all of its right, title, and interest "in and to the land lying between the flow line of Mountain Lake and the westerly line of Lot 98, Block J, as shown on" Map No. 2. It has been said that trifles make up the happiness or the misery of life.

Those transactions conspicuously display the intense concern of the plaintiffs and the borough in the proprietary use of the narrow strip of land situate between the flow line of the lake and the boundary line of about 200 feet of lot 98, Block J.

The plaintiffs graded and surfaced their lot by the addition of about 400 loads of fill, erected upon it an exceptionally attractive residence facing the lake, landscaped and adorned the grounds with shrubbery, and provided a small ...


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