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Highpoint Inc. v. Bloomfield Planning Board

Decided: December 22, 1964.

HIGHPOINT, INC., A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
BLOOMFIELD PLANNING BOARD, ETC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Conford, Kilkenny and Lewis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Lewis, J.A.D.

Lewis

Highpoint, Inc., assignee of the Troy Development Corporation (herein interchangeably referred to as plaintiff and developer), instituted proceedings in lieu of prerogative writs to review the action of defendants Bloomfield Planning Board and the Town of Bloomfield relating to a proposed major subdivision of land.

The tract of land sought to be subdivided involves 13 building lots and a street known as Jay Drive. The original plan,

marked plan "A," had been submitted to the board on February 13, 1962; it provided for a 50-foot radial cul-de-sac, or turn around, at the west end of Jay Drive, which extended into lots 100 and 101 and lots 111 and 112. The development lots were laid out in such manner that lots 100 to 105 inclusive (numbered from west to east) fronted on the south side, and lots 106 to 112 inclusive (numbered from east to west) fronted on the north side of said drive.

On October 9, 1962 the board conducted a public hearing on plaintiff's application for subdivision approval, at which time there were neighbors in attendance, some in person and others represented by counsel, who expressed concern and made inquiry respecting the anticipated development program. The planning board approved plaintiff's application upon stated terms and conditions which, inter alia, required the subdivider to revise its proposed plan to provide that the temporary cul-de-sac (50-foot radius) be located tangentially to the right side of Jay Drive, no part thereof to extend into the north-side lots 111 and 112 but to be located entirely within the street area and within the south-side lots 100 and 101. It was further provided that when Jay Drive were extended westward the cul-de-sac should be eliminated and also that the developer should provide in such event for the reversion of the excess right of way to the adjoining lot owners.

The resolution of the board effecting the foregoing disposition made specific reference to pertinent sections of the local ordinance "establishing rules, regulations and standards governing the subdivision of land," including section 8, subsection 2(m) thereof, which reads:

"Dead-end streets (culs-de-sac) shall not be longer than 600 ft. and shall provide a turn around at the end with a radius of not less than 50 ft. and tangent whenever possible to, the right side of the street. If a dead-end street is of a temporary nature, provisions made for future extension of the street and reversion of the excess right of way to the adjoining properties."

In effect, the foregoing administrative determination rejected the developer's plan as reflected in its diagrammatic

sketch marked plan "A" and constituted an approval of a revised plan as heretofore indicated which is identified as plan "B."

The development company being dissatisfied with that decision, its attorney wrote an explanatory letter to the board, dated October 11, 1962, stating in part, "To require the turn around at the end of Jay Drive entirely in lots 100 and 101 * * * is not 'reasonable' or 'practicable.' It results in the loss of any use of 20% of the applicant's land." The communication concluded with the request that the board call a special meeting to reconsider its October 9, 1962 action with a view toward reversing its requirement relating to the cul-de-sac. On the same day, by letter of its attorney, plaintiff gave notice of appeal, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:55-1.19, to the Town Council of the Town of Bloomfield requesting a hearing "on notice to all parties in interest." In a subsequent letter of November 1, 1962 to the municipality, it was suggested that a hearing on the appeal be scheduled for November 19, 1962 "if you can fit it within your agenda." At a meeting of the town council on the last mentioned date, a resolution was adopted remanding the matter to the planning board "for reconsideration of its resolution pursuant to an appeal of David A. Rappeport, attorney for Troy Development Corp.," as indicated by the minutes of the meeting supplied to the court on our request at oral argument.

The precise reasons for the remand do not appear in the record. It is argued in defendants' brief that the purpose was solely for decisional clarification. There is nothing in the form of the remand to suggest that the town council intended by that ...


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