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Longridge Builders Inc. v. Planning Board of Township of Princeton

Decided: October 14, 1966.

LONGRIDGE BUILDERS, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
PLANNING BOARD OF THE TOWNSHIP OF PRINCETON, IN THE COUNTY OF MERCER AND STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND THE TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE OF THE TOWNSHIP OF PRINCETON, IN THE COUNTY OF MERCER AND STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANTS



Bennett, J.s.c. (temporarily assigned).

Bennett

This is an action in lieu of prerogative writ instituted by plaintiff Longridge Builders, Inc. to review a decision of defendants Planning Board and Township Committee of Princeton requiring plaintiff to construct a road known as Woods Way, 361 feet beyond its subdivision.

The facts have been stipulated. Plaintiff is the owner of about 32 acres of land in Princeton Township, known as lot

35, section 22, and part of lot 16, section 32 on the Princeton Township tax map. Both of the tracts are located in zoning district R-2 wherein the minimum lot size requirement is 1 1/2 acres. These tracts are shaped irregularly, and are bounded on the south by Herrontown Road, an existing public road, and by land to the north belonging to individual property owners. Autumn Hill Road, another existing public road, is about 360 feet from the northern boundary of the plaintiff's tract, and runs parallel to that boundary. A dedicated, unimproved road right-of-way runs from the northern boundary of plaintiff's tract to Autumn Hill Road.

Plaintiff's contract to purchase this land was conditioned upon submission to and approval by the township planning board of its preliminary plan. The board heard plaintiff's application on February 8, 1965 and required, as a condition of its approval, that plaintiff's plat be amended to show that Woods Way was to be extended and paved beyond the northern boundary of plaintiff's subdivision, and within the reserved and dedicated right-of-way, to intersect Autumn Hill Road.

On February 12, 1965 plaintiff notified the township committee of its decision to appeal from that portion of the planning board's decision requiring the extension and paving of Woods Way beyond plaintiff's subdivision. On February 15, 1965 the township committee heard the appeal and it was "tabled for further study." In the meantime, and at the township committee's request, the planning board stated the reasons for its decision in a letter dated March 10, 1965. The board felt that the "connection" should be made because of the established policy of providing proper circulation not only for the immediate future but also for the eventual development of the area affected; to facilitate service and maintenance of the area, and to provide double access for emergency vehicles.

On April 5, 1965 the township committee, at its regular meeting, sustained the action of the planning board and dismissed the appeal. Thereafter plaintiff amended its plat, as

required by the planning board, and obtained the appropriate signatures on the plat on May 13, 1965. By a letter addressed to the township attorney, and submitted with the amended plat, plaintiff stated that "the condition imposed by the Planning Board that the developer must pave Woods Way beyond its northerly boundary to Autumn Hill Road is not only unreasonably burdensome but also a condition which the Planning Board has no legal authority to impose."

The extension of Woods Way beyond plaintiff's subdivision to Autumn Hill Road would cost the developer $10,500, and all the subdivision, including the extension of Woods Way, would total $110,000. It is anticipated that the lots and houses will be marketed in excess of $50,000 each.

Since obtaining preliminary subdivision approval, plaintiff has submitted and obtained final approval of a portion of the tract and has commenced development.

Arguments were heard on this matter, and it was then remanded to the planning board for its further consideration. The court felt that there was a lack of information concerning the status of property owners on either side of the contemplated road, and also expressed the opinion that while conditions exacted beyond plaintiff's geographical development may ...


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