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Town of Belleville v. Kiernan

Decided: March 16, 1956.

THE TOWN OF BELLEVILLE, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
GEORGE F. KIERNAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Goldmann, Freund and Conford. The opinion of the court was delivered by Freund, J.A.D.

Freund

The defendant, George F. Kiernan, appeals from a judgment of conviction by the Essex County Court after a trial de novo on appeal from his conviction in the Municipal Court of the Town of Belleville for violation of section 2 of the municipality's zoning ordinance in that he used his private residence for funeral business.

Two complaints, identical except for dates, charged that the defendant on February 9 and 10, 1955 violated the zoning ordinance "in that he used or permitted to be used premises commonly known as 272 Holmes Street, Belleville, New Jersey, located at the Northeast corner of Holmes Street and New Street as a funeral home, mortuary, undertaking establishment or as a place where a dead body was cared for and stored for the purposes of mourning and ceremonial services prior to burial." At the trial de novo before the County

Court the testimony was that the defendant is by occupation an undertaker and conducts a funeral establishment at No. 101 Union Avenue, Belleville, New Jersey. He was engaged and paid by Kathryn Lister, widow of Joseph Lister, to conduct the funeral and burial of her husband, who died on February 7. The decedent's body was first taken to the defendant's undertaking establishment on Union Avenue, and the following day was transferred to his residence at No. 272 Holmes Street, where the body was viewed and services conducted until February 10 when it was removed for burial.

The Holmes Street premises are owned by the defendant, George F. Kiernan, and Nellie F. Kiernan, and according to the zoning map received in evidence are located in a residential zone. The pertinent section of the ordinance provides that:

"Section 2. In a residence zone, no building or premises shall be used, and no building shall be erected or altered which is arranged, intended or designed to be used, except for one or more of the following uses:

1. Dwelling or Tenements, including the office of a physician, surgeon, dentist, lawyer, dressmaker, artist, or musician when situated in the same dwelling or apartment used by such physician, surgeon, dentist, lawyer, dressmaker, artist, or musician as his private dwelling."

There follows a list of other permissive uses of buildings, but an undertaking or funeral establishment is not among them.

On the first complaint the County Court suspended sentence, but on the second it imposed a fine of $35 and $5 costs. The defendant appeals and attacks the validity of the complaint and of the ordinance. We have concluded that the first point is well taken.

The complaint does not allege that the Holmes Street premises are in a residential zone. This omission is fatal. The complaint sub judice and its imperfections are identical with the situation in the case of Apter v. City of Newark , 6 N.J. Misc. 554 (Sup. Ct. 1928). The court said:

"The violation aimed at is the carrying on of a business in a residential district, and, this proceeding ...


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