On appeal from Superior Court, Appellate Division, whose opinion is reported in 34 N.J. Super. 418.
For affirmance -- Justice Heher, Oliphant, Wachenfeld, Burling, Jacobs and Brennan. For reversal -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt. The opinion of the court was delivered by Burling, J.
The Bergen County Board of Taxation and the Division of Tax Appeals of the Department of the Treasury concluded that three buildings owned by the Lutheran Bible Institute (hereinafter referred to as the Institute) were exempt from the property tax, R.S. 54:4-1 et seq., imposed by the Township of Teaneck. Teaneck appealed the administrative determination and the Superior Court, Appellate Division reversed, Teaneck Township v. Lutheran Bible Institute, 34 N.J. Super. 418 (App. Div. 1955). We granted certification upon the Institute's petition, 19 N.J. 326 (1955).
The facts are not in dispute. The parties have presented the factual resume from Judge Clapp's opinion below, 34 N.J. Super., at pages 419-420, for our consideration:
"The Institute, a religious corporation organized under Title 16 of the Revised Statutes, N.J.S.A., owns and operates in Teaneck a school of Christian education, teaching the Bible and other subjects for the benefit of laity of the
Lutheran denomination. Students attend free of charge. Four ordained ministers furnish classroom instruction and conduct regular chapel services for the benefit of the students.
"The three buildings in question, owned by the Institute, are not in the same tax block as the school and * * * are two miles away from it. Each is occupied * * * rent-free, by one of the ministers (one of the three being the Dean of the school) and his family as a dwelling. Here he has his office or study, and though no classes or meetings are held there regularly, students do seek him out at his home for additional guidance and instruction."
The narrow question is this: Are the three faculty residences entitled to the exemption under R.S. 54:4-3.6 because they are "buildings actually and exclusively used in the work of associations and corporations organized exclusively * * * for religious * * * purposes * * *?"
The Appellate Division held that a building used primarily as a residence for one engaged in the work of a religious corporation may not partake of the exemption because it is not "actually and exclusively used in the work" of the corporation.
The Institute argues that "the buildings which house our faculty are as much a part of the Institute as the classrooms themselves" and relies upon such adjudications as State v. Ross, 24 N.J.L. 497 (Sup. Ct. 1854) (the residences of the president and faculty members owned by Princeton University were held to be exempt) and Borough of Chatham v. Sisters of Charity, 92 N.J.L. 409 (E. & A. 1918) (residence of parochial school teachers used in part for religious worship held exempt). These exemption cases were decided on clauses relating to "colleges" or "schools," a statutory basis which the Institute has not chosen to invoke. But assuming arguendo the liberality of the "school" decisions, Piscataway Township v. State Bd. of Tax Appeals, 129 N.J.L. 261 (Sup. Ct. 1942), affirmed 131 N.J.L. 158 (E. & A. 1944), cf. Trustees of Rutgers University v. Piscataway Township, 134 N.J.L. 85 (Sup. Ct. 1946), they furnish no decisive rationale for the "religious purposes"
clause we are now dealing with. Cf. The Kimberley School v. Town of ...