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Mountcrest Estates Inc. v. Mayor and Township Committee of Township of Rockaway

Decided: July 7, 1967.

MOUNTCREST ESTATES, INC., A CORPORATION OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE MAYOR AND TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE OF THE TOWNSHIP OF ROCKAWAY AND THE PLANNING BOARD OF THE TOWNSHIP OF ROCKAWAY, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



Gaulkin, Lewis and Labrecque. The opinion of the court was delivered by Gaulkin, S.j.a.d.

Gaulkin

Plaintiff sued to have an amendment to the Rockaway zoning ordinance declared invalid "as to the lands * * * owned by plaintiff" and to compel the planning board to give tentative approval to its preliminary plat. The Law Division entered judgment in favor of defendants and plaintiff appeals.

In August 1965 the Township Committee of Rockaway adopted an ordinance (hereafter the August amendment) amending its 1958 zoning ordinance. It increased the height, yard, frontage and lot area requirements in "AA," "A" and "B" residential districts; the minimum area requirements with regard to lots in "AA" and "A" districts were more than doubled, and in the "B" district the minimum was increased from 7,700 to 13,175 square feet. Plaintiff owns about 63 acres of vacant land in the "B" district. The amendment added provisions for "open space zoning" in "A" and "B" districts. Open space zoning was defined in the ordinance as

"* * * a permitted reduction in lot size and lot area requirements in major subdivisions in the A and B Zone Districts in which the density requirements (dwelling units per acre) are maintained and where all resulting undeveloped land in the said subdivision is deeded to the Township of Rockaway for public purposes."

It was stated with regard to the "B" residence zone that the

"* * * minimum lot area requirement of 13,175 square feet may be reduced to not less than 7,700 square feet measured within 125 feet of the front street right-of-way provided all of the foregoing requirements are complied with in their entirety:

(1) That percentage of the area of the total tract equal to that percentage by which the average lot area is reduced from 13,175 square feet is deeded to the Township of Rockaway for public purposes.

(2) No area to be so deeded shall be less than 5 acres unless the area is to be joined to an existing parcel of land in public ownership, the aggregate of which shall not be less than 8 acres or unless a smaller area is shown on the Master Plan or Official Map of the Township of Rockaway.

(3) Any subdivision employing open-space zoning shall not be approved if there is more than one building lot for every 15,500 square

feet of the area of the tract including all lands to be deeded to the Township of Rockaway.

(4) The area to be deeded for open space under the terms of this section shall be at a location and shape as required and approved by the Planning Board."

Section 5 of the amendment provided that existing platted and developed lots, which failed to comply with the new minimum size requirements of the ordinance, "may be used for any use not otherwise prohibited in the District in which it lies, provided said lot is in single ownership * * * and * * * that the proposed use ...


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