Plaintiffs move for a summary judgment on their complaint in lieu of prerogative writs seeking mandamus to compel defendant Building Inspector of the Borough of Mountain Lakes to issue a building permit for the installation of a 5,000-gallon steel gasoline tank and pump in and on plaintiffs' premises, following his refusal to issue such a permit.
The single question is whether an owner is entitled as a matter of right to a building permit for an accessory use prior to any undertaking of the primary use to which the use sought is said to be accessory. The problem does not appear to have been considered heretofore in New Jersey.
The salutary purposes of summary judgment should be noted at the outset.
"* * * [Summary judgment] is designed to provide a prompt, businesslike and inexpensive method of disposing of any cause which a discriminating search of the merits in the pleadings, depositions and admissions on file, together with the affidavits submitted on the motion clearly shows not to present any genuine issue of material fact requiring disposition at a trial. Shientag, 4 Ford L. Rev. 186 (1935). In conjunction with the pretrial discovery and pretrial conference procedures, the summary judgment procedure aims at 'the swift uncovering of the merits and either their effective disposition or their advancement toward prompt resolution by trial.' Clark, The Summary Judgment, 36 Minn. L. Rev. 567, 579 (1952). Even when a case for summary judgment is not made out, the procedure can be a valuable adjunct to pretrial conference procedure when, as may be done under R.R. 4:58-4, there results an order specifying the facts that exist without substantial controversy and directing such further proceedings in the action as are just. Cooper v. Jeter, 17 N.J. Super. 180 (Cty. Ct. 1951)." Judson v. Peoples Bank & Trust Co. of Westfield, 17 N.J. 67, 74 (1954).
Considerations limiting the granting of summary judgment are equally important:
"The standards of decision governing the grant or denial of a summary judgment emphasize that a party opposing a motion is not to be denied a trial unless the moving party sustains the burden of showing clearly the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. At the same time, the standards are to be applied with discriminating care so as not to defeat a summary judgment if the movant is justly entitled to one.
Thus it is the movant's burden to exclude any reasonable doubt as to the existence of any genuine issue of material fact, 6 Moore's Federal Practice, par. 56.15(3). The phrasing of our rule, R.R. 4:58-3, slightly different from Federal Rule 56 (c), underscores this in the requirement that the absence of undisputed material facts must appear 'palpably.' All inferences of doubt are drawn against the movant in favor of the opponent of the motion. The papers supporting the motion are closely scrutinized and the opposing papers indulgently treated, Templeton v. Borough of Glen Rock, 11 N.J. Super. 1, 4 (App. Div. 1950). * * *." Judson v. Peoples Bank & Trust Co. of Westfield, supra, at pages 74-75.
Plaintiffs bottom their purported right to the gasoline tank and pump upon their admitted right to use the premises for "garaging and/or servicing of motor vehicles," a use permitted by section 5.1.4 of the zoning ordinance of the Borough of Mountain Lakes. That a primary use in the
nature of the business of garaging or servicing of motor vehicles or both is intended by that section is clear.
There appears to be no controversy with respect to certain of the facts. Plaintiffs are the owners of parcels of vacant land in the Borough of Mountain Lakes, located within a zoning district known as Business Zone B. No proof is offered by plaintiffs on this motion as to the actual use of the land. The affidavit of defendant building inspector, which, in addition to being uncontroverted, must be "indulgently treated," Judson v. Peoples Bank & Trust Co. of Westfield, supra, clearly reflects that the land is presently ...