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State v. Zeus

Decided: June 29, 1959.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
WILLIAM ZEUS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from municipal court.

The opinion of the court was delivered by Barger, J.c.c.

Barger

This is an appeal by the defendant from a conviction in the Municipal Court of the Township of Springfield of speeding in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-98(b).

The appeal is heard by this court on the transcript of the trial below. The transcript consists of the stipulations of counsel as to the facts which are not in dispute and the testimony of the assistant engineer of the township, who appeared and testified as to the preparation and accuracy of Exhibit S-1, being a survey map of the area concerned. Exhibit S-2 is a copy of the zoning map of the township indicating that the area concerned is zoned residential.

The defendant is charged with operating a motor vehicle on Baltusrol Road on a public highway in the Township of Springfield at about 4:40 P.M. on April 15, 1959, at a speed of 41 m.p.h. in a 25 m.p.h. zone, in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-98(b). The defendant admits that he was so operating, but contends that the area involved is not

a residential district and it does not qualify as such under the definition set forth in N.J.S.A. 39:1-1, and actually is a 50 m.p.h. zone as provided in N.J.S.A. 39:4-98(c), and therefore he is not guilty of the charge referred to. The only legal issue before this court for its determination in this appeal is the meaning of the definition of "residence district" as set forth in N.J.S.A. 39:1-1.

This is the statutory definition:

"'Residence district' means that portion of a highway and the territory contiguous thereto, not comprising a business district, where within any 600 feet along such highway there are buildings in use for business or residential purposes which occupy 300 feet or more of frontage on at least 1 side of the highway."

In order to determine the intent of the Legislature it is necessary to consider the status of the definition as defined prior to amendment in 1951:

"'Residence district' or 'residential district' means the territory contiguous to a highway not comprising a business district when the frontage on the highway for a distance of three hundred feet or more is mainly occupied by dwellings, or by dwellings and buildings in use for business."

The inquiry of the court is directed to whether in the present statute the interpretation of the word "frontage" in the formula established by the definition has reference to buildings or the lands upon which any such buildings are erected and fronting on the highway. If the meaning is construed to be highway frontage of the lands on which the buildings are erected, then the area comes within the formula and the speed limit would be 25 m.p.h., as it is admittedly a residence area as a matter of character. If, on the other hand, the meaning of frontage in the definition is construed to be the frontage of the buildings erected thereon, then the area ...


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