Price, Conford and Gaulkin. The opinion of the court was delivered by Gaulkin, J.A.D.
This action in lieu of prerogative writ was submitted to the Superior Court, Law Division, upon a stipulation of facts and cross-motions for summary judgment. Summary judgment was entered in favor of plaintiff, ordering defendants to "forthwith re-issue to the plaintiff, Tremarco Corporation, a building permit for the erection of a two bay gasoline service station." Defendants appeal.
Defendants admit that on June 25, 1957 the township building inspector issued to John J. Boscarell, the then owner of the premises in question, a valid building permit for the construction of a service station in an area in which the township zoning ordinance, passed in 1950, permitted such use.
Since the parties base their respective positions upon the stipulated facts, we shall quote the essential portions thereof:
"5. The existence of the permit made the property worth more than it would be worth as a location for other business and worth much more than its value for residential purposes.
6. Relying on the existence of the permit and the provisions of the ordinance under which it was granted, the plaintiff agreed to purchase the premises from John J. Boscarell for $21,500.00.
7. Plaintiff is a corporation whose sole function is to acquire sites for gas service stations for Gulf Oil Corporation and except for the availability of the premises in question for the service station proposed, plaintiff would have had no interest in it.
8. The * * * building code of Ewing Township * * * provides that any permit issued thereunder is automatically revoked if the work covered thereby is not actually commenced within three months next after the date on which such permit shall have been issued.
9. Title to the premises passed from John J. Boscarell to plaintiff on October 2, 1957.
10. Prior to the passing of title * * * the parties or their agents, secured from the building inspector of Ewing Township [then Alexander Savonick] his assurance that the permit could
be considered as renewed. Based on such assurance title was passed and full consideration was paid.
11. On October 8, 1957 [the] Building Inspector, * * * in accordance with his commitment, issued a renewal of the permit for an additional ninety days. * * *
12. Prior to the expiration of the renewed ninety day period [on January 2, 1958] plaintiff again applied to the same building inspector for the reissuance or renewal of the building permit for an additional ninety days. The renewals were granted in the name of Gulf Oil Corporation, the plaintiff's principal.
14. During the period of the renewals of the permit, the plaintiff spent $145.00 for a survey, $647.16 for architect's fees, and [on March 3, 1958] entered into a contract with South Jersey Pump and Tank Service, Inc. for the construction of the building and equipment to be erected on the site [for the price of $31,412.00]. * * *
16. Sometime during the month of March, 1958, South Jersey Pump & Tank Service, Inc. deposited on the premises gas storage tanks as its first step in the execution of the contract.
17. In March, 1958, and prior to the expiration date of the last renewal [April 2, 1958] plaintiff again applied to the defendant Building Inspector [then Garzio] for a reissuance or renewal of the building permit. The defendant, Garzio, issued plaintiff a new building permit on March 27, 1958.
18. The defendant Garzio knew of the prior permits and was informed that the plaintiff in reliance thereon had let the contract to ...