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James v. Board of Adjustment of Town of Montclair

Decided: May 10, 1956.

HAVELOCK I. JAMES AND DOROTHY JAMES, FRANCESCO F. FONSECA AND RUTH J. FONSECA, EDNA B. POST, ROBERT KERR AND DOROTHY KERR, EDWARD J. CARLSON, CHARLES E. DEHART AND ELIZABETH DEHART, JAMES V. MAFFEI, MONTELEONE ROGERS, L. ALEXANDER DOLAN AND ANNE DOLAN, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT OF THE TOWN OF MONTCLAIR, THE INSPECTOR OF BUILDINGS OF THE TOWN OF MONTCLAIR, THE MONTCLAIR ART ASSOCIATION, INC., DEFENDANTS



Civil action in lieu of prerogative writ.

Coolahan, J.s.c.

Coolahan

This is a proceeding in lieu of prerogative writ to review the validity of a resolution of the Board of Adjustment of the Town of Montclair, dated September 15, 1955, approving the application of the Montclair Art Association, Inc. (hereinafter called "The Association") for an off-street parking lot on its premises. The Association has been the owner of an art museum on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair since 1914. The museum is located in an R-O Zone, otherwise known as Mountainside Zone, as established in the zoning ordinance of the Town of Montclair. By the terms of section 6 of such ordinance only the following uses are permitted in an R-O Zone:

"* * *

(a) A one-family detached dwelling.

(b) Parks and playgrounds operated by the Town of Montclair or the County of Essex.

(c) Schools, Libraries and museums, operated by the Town of Montclair.

(d) A doctor's office either as part of a dwelling or separately, subject to the conditions specified in Section 20 of this Ordinance.

(e) Accessory uses customarily incident to the above uses."

The premises in question are commonly known as No. 3 South Mountain Avenue and are designated on the tax maps of the Town of Montclair as Map 41, Block A, Lots 1 and 2. The tract is a large one, bounded on the north by Bloomfield Avenue (360 feet), on the west by South Mountain Avenue (340 feet), on the east by St. Lukes Place (165 feet), and with a southerly side line extending 390 feet. For approximately 40 years a considerable portion of this tract has been occupied by a large museum building which has been operated by the Association as a cultural and educational

center in the arts and the exhibition of works of art to the citizens of Montclair and neighboring communities. Because of increasingly hazardous traffic conditions on Bloomfield Avenue and South Mountain Avenue, and in the absence of any on-premises parking facilities for students (400) and visitors (22,000 per annum), the Association sought permission of the board of adjustment for a 29-car parking lot on its premises.

The premises bound upon and adjoin on the east the westerly end of Montclair's main business district, which extends easterly from the museum property on both sides of Bloomfield Avenue all the way to the Montclair-Glen Ridge municipal boundary line, a distance of approximately two-thirds of a mile. Directly across from the museum property on the northerly side of Bloomfield Avenue is a large Food Fair supermarket, including an extensive parking area; immediately adjoining the Food Fair on the east are the commercial office and old car-barns, owned by Public Service, the latter formerly used for the storage of ...


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