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Urban Farms Inc. v. Seel

Decided: March 16, 1965.

URBAN FARMS, INC., A CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARTHUR J. SEEL AND CHARLOTTE SEEL, HIS WIFE, DEFENDANTS



Pashman, J.s.c.

Pashman

This is an action in which plaintiff corporation seeks to enjoin defendants husband and wife from violating two restrictive covenants. One covenant is found only in a written contract of sale between the parties, and the other in both the contract and the deed conveying certain property from plaintiff to defendants.

Urban Farms is a model community for our affluent society. The area, owned and operated by plaintiff corporation, consists of approximately 240 one-family homes, all of which have a very substantial value. With permission of counsel, I inspected the premises in question. Urban Farms is located in the Borough of Franklin Lakes and extends over approximately 3000 acres, with 500 acres presently being developed. Plaintiff contends that it is doing everything within its power to keep the community beautiful to the sight and wholesome in environment. To achieve this end, plaintiff claims it has been necessary to impose restrictive covenants binding on the residents of Urban Farms. Defendants, who own property in the community, counter that many of these covenants have only one purpose -- to enlarge plaintiff's corporate pocketbook through an interlocking realty company.

On August 1, 1961 defendants entered into a written contract to buy a certain lot for $12,500 from plaintiff corporation. The sales contract contained a typewritten provision, inserted between the "In witness whereof" clause and the signatures on the printed contract, stating:

"Supplementing Clause No. 2 in Schedule 'A' of this contract, it is understood and agreed that any residence erected on the within described premises will be built by a Contractor approved by Urban Farms, Inc. Any top soil stored on this lot is the property of the Seller and must not be moved."

Pursuant to the the terms of the contract, title was closed on September 30, 1961 and a deed containing all of the printed terms in the contract, except the additional typewritten

clause set forth above, was executed and delivered to defendants. Both the contract and the deed contained a schedule designated as "Schedule A," which included, among other covenants, conditions and restrictions, the following:

"No dwelling or other structure, nor any exterior alterations or improvements thereof shall be built, constructed, maintained, used or occupied unless and until the plans and specifications thereof, together with a plot plan showing the proposed location thereof, (and a grading plan of said plot if requested) shall have been approved by written endorsement of the grantor herein, its successors or assigns, upon said plans prior to the commencement of the construction thereof."

The evidence submitted at trial indicates that in June 1963 defendants decided to build a dwelling on the premises in question. After numerous conferences under the supervision of Carmine A. Latrecchia, president of a construction firm of the same name, plans and specifications for a two-story home were prepared by Rudolph G. Bolling, an architect, at Latrecchia's request. Latrecchia acted as agent for defendants. Bolling received $300 from Latrecchia. This rather conservative charge was fixed by arrangement with plaintiff. Defendants ultimately paid Latrecchia $370 for this service.

These plans and specifications were submitted to plaintiff and were returned to Latrecchia containing its written endorsement as follows:

"APPROVED FOR URBAN FARMS, INC.

JOB NO. 1-145

BLOCK NO. 1110-A LOT ...


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