Civil action in lieu of prerogative writs.
This matter comes before the court as the result of plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment pursuant to R.R. 4:58-3.
Plaintiffs, who are residents of the Township of Union, New Jersey, are property owners and taxpayers of the Township of Scotch Plains, New Jersey, being the owners of property commonly known as 809 Jerusalem Road, Scotch Plains, New Jersey.
On December 5, 1967 defendant adopted an ordinance establishing an Architectural Review Board. Under this ordinance,
all applicants for building permits for construction or renovation of commercial, industrial or multi-family structures or signs must submit plans to this board for approval, said approval to be based upon the standards set forth in section 5 of the ordinance. If the board determines the applicant has complied with the ordinance, the application will be approved and submitted to the building inspector to determine whether the other laws are complied with. If so, the permit issues.
Plaintiffs contend that (1) Scotch Plains has no authority to enact such an ordinance, and (2) the standards set forth in section 5 are vague and unreasonable in that they call for subjective findings.
It is defendants' position that (1) plaintiffs have no standing to bring this suit; (2) the municipality has authority under its police power to enact this ordinance for aesthetic purposes, and (3) the ordinance sets out satisfactory legal standards.
With regard to the question of standing, defendants contend that plaintiffs have not built on the vacant land that they own and that they do not intend to build thereon. However, this court is satisfied that plaintiffs have complied with the requirements of Kozesnik v. Montgomery Twp., 24 N.J. 154 (1951) wherein the court stated at pages 177-178:
"* * * we have recognized a broad right in the taxpayers and citizens of a municipality to such review of local legislative action without proof of unique financial detriment to them. Driscoll v. Burlington-Bristol Bridge Co., 8 N.J. 433, 476 (1952); Garrou v. Teaneck Tryon Co., 11 N.J. 294, 302 (1953); Koch v. Borough of Seaside Heights, 40 N.J. Super. 86, 93 (App. Div. 1956), affirmed 22 N.J. 218 (1956); Haines v. Burlington County Bridge Commission, 1 N.J. Super. 163, 171 (App. Div. 1949). The community at large has an interest in the integrity of the zoning plan. Beirn v. Morris (14 N.J., at page 536), sufficient to justify an attack which goes to the validity of the entire district."
In the case of Behlen & Bros., Inc. v. Mayor and Council of Town of Kearny, 31 N.J. Super. 30, 37 (App. Div. 1954)
the court ruled in effect that property owners have standing to challenge the validity of zoning ordinances relating to the non-conforming use of other properties within the same zone.
Borough of Cresskill v. Borough of Dumont, 15 N.J. 238 (1954) succinctly expresses the law to date. In Cresskill, the court has laid down as criteria for standing to attack zoning ordinances ...