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Township of Berlin v. Christiansen

Decided: December 10, 1965.

TOWNSHIP OF BERLIN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHRIS CHRISTIANSEN, DEFENDANT



Pascoe, J.c.c.

Pascoe

This is an appeal from a decision of the Municipal Court for the Township of Berlin, wherein the defendant was found guilty of violating section 3(a) of the township zoning ordinance. The case proceeded de novo on a stipulation of fact. R.R. 3:10-10.

The pertinent part of the ordinance is as follows:

"Section 3. Residential A. Districts.

In Residential A. Districts, no building or other structure shall be used and no building or other structure shall be built, altered or erected to be used or designed for use for any purpose other than that of the following:

(a) A single family dwelling. * * *"

It was stipulated that defendant Christiansen and his wife were owners as tenants by the entirety of a split level dwelling house located at 321 Cleveland Avenue in the Township of Berlin in a Residential A district.

The physical layout of the dwelling house is as follows: on the lowest level there is a recreation room and a bedroom, together with an entrance to the back yard; several steps from the recreation room lead to the middle level which consists of a living room, kitchen and dinette, and has an entrance opening on the front of the dwelling house; the upper level consists of three bedrooms and is directly above the lowest level.

In the early summer of 1965 defendant's wife separated herself from him and together with their children is residing in another municipality. On July 5, 1965, subsequent thereto, one Robert Cornwell, a friend of defendant, moved into the dwelling with Mrs. Cornwell and their three children. The Cornwell family used the three bedrooms on the upper level and defendant slept in the bedroom on the lowest level. There were no other cooking or dining facilities in the dwelling other than the kitchen and dinette located on the middle level. Defendant entered either the front door or the back entrance, depending on which was more convenient. The Cornwell children used the back entrance on the lowest level whenever they played in the back yard. The Cornwells were in the dwelling house as tenants on a month-to-month lease which was terminated on October 15, 1965. No physical changes were erected inside the house as a result of the occupancy of the Cornwells. The monthly rental paid by the Cornwells was $115.

The zoning ordinance in question would limit the use of defendant's property to a "single family dwelling" and to six other uses which are not relevant in this action. The township contends that defendant's house has been divided into two apartments and as such violated its zoning ordinance. Defendant contends that occupancy of the house by the Cornwell

family and himself does not violate the "single ...


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