Civil action. Conclusions.
The plaintiff seeks injunctive relief in connection with the use of certain lands in Delaware Township, Camden County, New Jersey, and compensatory and punitive damages for past interference with such use.
The facts are as follows:
Prior to July 1954 plaintiff had been interested in obtaining a site for a gasoline service station on certain lands
situate in Delaware Township, Camden County, New Jersey, and abutting U.S. Route 38, a heavily travelled four-lane highway. These lands were bounded as well by two other public streets, i.e. , Woodland Avenue and Harvard Avenue. It notified defendants Aaron Heine and William Fearn, officers of Camden Securities Company, of its interest in leasing said lands, with a completed service station thereon erected. The said Fearn was, as well, an officer of Arbill Construction Company which, it was intended, would make the necessary improvements thereon.
Camden Securities Company obtained title to the lands and negotiated with plaintiff for a lease. Although testimony was adduced by the defendant that Camden Securities Company was not primarily motivated in securing title because of plaintiff's avowed interest, I do not believe this to be true.
At all times during these negotiations it was clearly understood by all of the parties that plaintiff was interested in obtaining this location because it abutted the highway (U.S. Route 38) and motorists travelling thereon would have direct access to the proposed station. The presence of the other two abutting streets was of little, if any, interest to the plaintiff.
During the negotiations it became known that the New Jersey State Highway Department intended to widen U.S. Route 38 adjacent to the locus in quo. Both the plaintiff and Camden Securities Company became firmly convinced that the State Highway Department would take the 20 feet immediately adjacent to the existing roadway for highway purposes. As Heine expressed it in his testimony, "There was never any doubt in anyone's mind; never any contingency contemplated involving the non-taking by the State of the twenty feet. That was supposed to be an accomplished fact."
Under date of September 24, 1954 a lease was entered into between plaintiff and Camden Securities Company. Following the detailed metes and bounds description, the lease provided:
"EXCEPTING THEREOUT and therefrom a strip of land 20' in width the southerly line of which is the present Northerly line of New Jersey State Highway Route #38 (80 feet wide) and the Northerly line being parallel with the present Northerly line of New Jersey State Highway Route 38 (80 feet wide) and 20 feet therefrom if measured on a line at right angles thereto: The Westerly end of said strip being the Easterly line of Woodland Avenue and the Easterly end of said strip being the dividing line between lots 125 and 126 on Plan of Merchantville Acre Farms aforesaid."
By virtue of this exception, the 20 feet it was understood would be taken by the State was excluded from the demised premises and the southerly line of the demised premises was a distance of 20 feet ...