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Stackhouse v. Borough of Pemberton

Decided: October 4, 1963.

JOSEPH S. STACKHOUSE, EXECUTOR UNDER THE WILL OF LEWIS J. MANTEL, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE BOROUGH OF PEMBERTON, IN THE COUNTY OF BURLINGTON, A CORPORATION UNDER AND BY VIRTUE OF THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT



Wood, A.c., J.c.c. (temporarily assigned).

Wood

This is an action by the executor of the estate of Lewis J. Mantel, deceased, seeking a judgment quieting the title to land and premises of the decedent situate at the northwest corner of Hanover Street and Antis Street in the Borough of Pemberton. The borough contends that certain buildings erected upon said lands encroach upon the dedicated right of way of Antis Street. This claim is denied by the executor.

The facts are substantially undisputed.

The lands of decedent, title to which is in dispute, lie on the west side of Hanover Street (formerly known as Main Street) and on the north side of said Antis Street. Decedent's title thereto stems by mesne conveyances from Thomas Throp, who held title thereto in 1792.

On the west side of Hanover Street and the south side of Antis Street lies a tract of land now or formerly owned by Theodore Budd and his wife. Title to this tract was acquired by Mr. Budd by mesne conveyances from Thomas Reynolds, who also held title in the year 1792.

In that year the surveyors of the highways of Northampton, Springfield and Hanover Townships made a return of roads or streets in the Village of New Mills, which was dated May 31, 1792 and is noted as received in the County Clerk's office on August 12, 1808 and recorded February 14, 1815 in Book B of Roads, page 254. The streets therein described are the streets of the defendant borough with which we are here concerned.

That part of the return which concededly pertains to Antis Street reads as follows:

"Beginning in the said Main Street at the South end of the market house and runs North 66 degrees west 5 chains along the line of Thomas Reynolds, Esquire and Thomas Throp lots to the back street called Jervis Street, twelve feet wide equally on each lot."

In the margin of the record appears an illegible notation.

It is undisputed that Antis Street as it now exists is 13 1/2 feet wide from curb to curb. On the Mantel property, which, as above stated, is located on the north side of Antis Street, are erected certain buildings -- a wooden frame store building fronting on Hanover Street, and, behind, i.e. , to the west of this building, a smaller frame barn building which was formerly used in the preservation of meats. Mr. Theodore Budd, the owner of the land to the south of Antis Street, and William H. Heisler, Jr., Esq., both of them long-time residents of Pemberton who have served in its local government, concur that the buildings have stood as they now stand, without change in their location or exterior aspect, for at least 60 years. Moreover, it clearly appears that Antis Street has existed as a street slightly over 12 feet wide for at least an equal length of time, and that its physical layout has not been altered since a time prior to the year 1924 when the presently existing curbs were installed.

The borough now maintains, on the strength of the ancient road return, that the original boundary line between the lands of Throp and Reynolds, the remote predecessors in title of Mantel and Budd, respectively, forms the center line of the right of way of Antis Street, which right of way, it is contended, is 24 feet wide. The borough contends that this ancient boundary does not form the center line of the street as it now exists, but is located about 12 feet from the south curb and 1 1/2 feet from the north curb of the street. It follows, says the ...


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