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Griggs v. Zoning Board of Adjustment of Borough of Princeton

Decided: July 11, 1962.

BURNETT GRIGGS, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT OF THE BOROUGH OF PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY, ETC., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



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

Foley

Defendant appeals from a Law Division judgment reversing the board's denial of a "special exception" to the Princeton zoning ordinance, which would permit plaintiff to construct a gasoline station in an area zoned as a business B1 district.

The pertinent sections of the zoning ordinance follow:

"Section 9.

Business B1 Districts

Prohibited Uses: The following uses of buildings and of land shall be prohibited in Business B1 Districts:

(9) Public garages, gas-filling stations and used car lots, except when approved by the Board of Adjustment in accordance with the provisions of Section 12(D). * * *"

"Section 12.

Exceptions and Special Provisions

(D) Public Garages, Gas-Filling Stations and Used Car Lots:

(1) The Board of Adjustment may after public notice and hearing, and subject to appropriate conditions and safeguards for safety and protection of health and the general welfare, permit without time limitation or for a stated term of years, in a Business B1 District or in a Business B2 District subject to the provisions of this subsection (D), a public garage, a gas-filling station or a used car lot. * * *"

The plaintiff's property is located at the corner of Hulfish and Witherspoon Streets, about 100 feet from Palmer Square, the business center of Princeton. It measures approximately 10,000 square feet and has a frontage on the two streets totalling about 186 feet. A tavern is located directly to the north of the property, and directly to the west there is a municipal parking lot. To the south, across Hulfish Street, is located another gasoline station, and to the west, across Witherspoon Street, another municipal parking lot. Presently there are several buildings on plaintiff's lot, consisting of a two-story restaurant, a small garage, a fish store and his two and one-half story residence. At an earlier time the borough unsuccessfully attempted to classify the area in which the property is located as a "blighted area." See Griggs v. Princeton Borough , 33 N.J. 207 (1960).

Plaintiff applied to the building inspector for a special exception pursuant to section 12(D) above. The application was denied. He then appealed to the zoning board of adjustment, which held a hearing on October 27, 1960, upon notice to all landowners within 200 feet.

The evidence therein disclosed that the gasoline station in contemplation would be in conformity with the colonial type architecture of Palmer Square. In describing his plans, Richard Charlton, plaintiff's architect, testified that the station would be fire resistant, and he expressed the opinion that the removal of the existing structures and the installation of the station would provide a clear and unobstructed view around the corner of Hulfish and Witherspoon Streets thereby increasing traffic safety at the intersection. Charles Draine, an insurance broker, estimated upon the basis of the plans submitted and the testimony of the architect concerning the fire resistant construction, that the station would be in the high 20% ...


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