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Vickers v. Township Committee of Gloucester Township

Decided: June 23, 1961.

HAROLD E. VICKERS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE OF GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP ET AL., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



Goldmann, Foley and Lewis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Foley, J.A.D.

Foley

Plaintiff appeals from a judgment entered in favor of defendants in two suits in lieu of prerogative writs, consolidated for trial, challenging the validity of two ordinances of the Township of Gloucester prohibiting the establishment and conduct of a trailer park business on plaintiff's property.

Plaintiff contends: (1) an amendment to a zoning ordinance prohibiting trailer parks in the industrial zone, the only zone where they had theretofore been permitted, was illegal and void because the planning board did not have the opportunity to give proper consideration to the matter as required by N.J.S.A. 40:55-35, and (2) complete prohibition of trailer parks in every part of the municipality, as effected by the amendatory zoning ordinance and the repeal of a trailer regulatory ordinance, constituted an arbitrary

and unreasonable exercise of the zoning power and the police power.

The determinative facts are not in dispute. On July 1, 1957 Gloucester Township adopted a zoning ordinance which established Residence Districts "A," "B," "C," and "D," Business District, Agriculture District, and Industry District. Trailer parks not being specifically included in the permissible uses of property zoned for residence, business or agriculture, and, not being expressly excluded from the uses permitted in the industrial zone, became a lawful use in such zone.

On September 3, 1957 the township enacted an ordinance regulating the operation of trailer camps and allied activities in the municipality.

In November 1957 plaintiff purchased a parcel of land, approximately 10 acres in area, situate in an industrial zone. In April 1959 the Supreme Court upheld both the zoning ordinance and the trailer ordinance in the case of Napierkowski v. Township of Gloucester , 29 N.J. 481 (1959). Inter alia the case held that the township had the right to prohibit by its ordinances, as they then existed, the maintenance of trailers at any place other than in the industrial areas defined by the zoning ordinance.

On August 26, 1959 plaintiff made application to the township for permission to operate a trailer park on the lands he had purchased. On December 8, 1959 he was formally notified by letter that his application was denied because it "would be in violation of the Sub-Division and Zoning Ordinance of the township and also the individual trailers would not comply with the provisions of the building code." Meanwhile, on September 19, 1959, plaintiff had acquired title to a second parcel of land, also in the industrial zone and located directly across the road from that which he already owned.

On December 30, 1959 plaintiff filed a complaint in lieu of prerogative writs directed against the denial by the Township Committee of his application to operate a trailer park.

The case came on for hearing on March 17, 1960, at which time the court heard the testimony of the plaintiff and some expert testimony as well. Much of the testimony at that session pertained to the question of whether plaintiff's application and plans complied with the standards promulgated by the State of New Jersey, Department of Health. On motion plaintiff was granted leave to amend his application and the plans which accompanied it. Trial was resumed in June 1960 and at this session it was stipulated by counsel that the amended application and plans, as submitted, complied with the aforesaid standards.

However, on April 22, 1960 the township amended its zoning ordinance so as to prohibit trailer parks in the industrial zone. Simultaneously, the township adopted another ordinance repealing the trailer ordinance. The effect of these enactments was to prohibit the operation of ...


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