Plaintiff, as lessee of lands situate entirely within the Town of Maplewood, Essex County, New Jersey, where it operates a modern supermarket, brings suit in lieu of prerogative writ for the removal of certain barricades which bar ingress to and egress from its premises.
Along the north, south and east lines said lands border and are contiguous to the boundary line of the City of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey. Located at a point along the northerly border there exists a public street designated as Eastern Parkway wholly within the City of Newark, which dead ends at the municipal boundaries, being the farthest southerly end of Eastern Parkway. At the terminus of said street or parkway there exist wooden barricades which block the entrance and exit of vehicular traffic and pedestrian passage into and from plaintiff's lands. The barrier to vehicular traffic has existed about 15 years (preceding plaintiff's acquired interest in the lands), while the bar to
pedestrian traffic was erected on October 16, 1958 (about two days after the supermarket was opened). Before plaintiff leased the property its lessor requested the removal of the highway barricade, and a short time previous to starting its operations plaintiff requested that the sidewalk barricades be removed. Both requests were refused. The boundaries are not physically separated at the municipal lines, except by the aforesaid barricades. It should be stated that no prescriptive right is involved and no inter-municipal relationship or agreement prevails respecting travel to and from the cities; also the area in question is located within a residential zone established by ordinance of the City of Newark.
Wherefore, plaintiff files this complaint demanding the removal of said barricades and for compensatory and punitive damages by reason of said refusal.
No substantial factual dispute exists in view of the stipulations of record. To be adjudicated here is the issue of plaintiff's right of ingress and egress to Eastern Parkway, and an award of damages if a determination sub judice is in its favor. At the close of the proof the cause was submitted.
As appears in the record, and in particular by the photographic exhibits in evidence, plaintiff's established operation provides for the delivery of its merchandise and supplies, as well as removal of material, at a location nearest to the vicinity of Eastern Parkway, which involves the movement of trucks for loading and unloading; whereas the portion provided for customers to shop is farthest therefrom, with parking facilities beyond the delivery area. All vehicular and pedestrian travel, if the barricades were not there, would in fact follow a course across the service area to reach the parking portion as well as the market building entrance for shopping. It is significant that the related layout for operations would develop, if the obstructions were eliminated, a resulting use of Eastern Parkway for commercial vehicles mostly, and only a nominal use by private vehicles or by customers on foot.
Plaintiff's primary contention urges that the existing barricades deny possessory means of ingress and egress. Succinctly, it is urged that the aforedescribed location of plaintiff's lands form a lawful basis for its claim against interference with the generally recognized right of an abutting owner, i.e. , a license to use a street or highway on which property fronts. But is such right applicable to the situation at bar? I believe not. A search of the cases fails to produce any precedent ruling by our courts on this contention. A review of the law in this State settling a property owner's right of ingress and egress has specific regard to lands that are parallel to or are situate along the side lines of an existing highway, in which case the right of passage of an abutting owner prevails. Lindel Realty Co. v. Miller , 2 N.J. Super. 204 (Ch. Div. 1948), affirmed 4 N.J. Super. 37 (App. Div. 1949).
The lands of the owners on the east and west sides of the most southerly end of Eastern Parkway, and fronting thereon, would have the indubitable right of ingress to and egress from the highway. To accept plaintiff's contended right would be in clear conflict, and an encumbrance to those owners. On the other hand, a denial of plaintiff's right here asserted does not landlock its premises in view of the evidence that ingress and egress is available from Irvington Avenue, a main artery for both municipalities which runs directly along the westerly frontage of plaintiff's property. Besides, from the City of Newark customers of plaintiff have a means of access to Irvington Avenue (to reach the supermarket) by way of Putnam Street and Norman Road.
In the case of Campbell v. City of Glendale , 211 S.W. 2 d 519 (Mo. Ct. of App. 1948), the plaintiff sought damages where the city vacated a strip of land along a dead-end street contiguous in part to the rear line of plaintiff's lands in the same city, which blocked entrance to his property. At trial the municipality was ...