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Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of New York v. Palisades Associates

Decided: April 13, 1970.


Mountain, J.s.c.


[110 NJSuper Page 35] This is a declaratory judgment action in which other incidental relief is sought. On April

7, 1969 plaintiff acquired by deed from defendant Palisades Associates a tract of land in the Borough of Alpine, Bergen County. By the terms of the deed plaintiff-grantee covenanted as follows:

FIRST: That there shall not be erected or maintained on the premises hereinabove described and hereby conveyed any buildings whatsoever except a private dwelling and except a garage appurtenant thereto for use by not more than one family.

SECOND: That no portion of said premises shall be used for any trade or business purposes whatsoever, except as an office or offices of professional persons residing on the premises, nor shall any nuisance on, or any use of, said premises be permitted which shall be noxious or dangerous to health

THIRD: That there shall not be erected any building, fence, wall, advertising sign or other structure or improvement on said premises, nor any exterior addition to, or change or alteration therein, be made, unless and until the plans and specifications therefor, and the grading plan of the plot to be built upon, showing the location of the proposed improvement upon the plot, shall have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Grantor, and a copy thereof, as finally approved, filed permanently with the Grantor. The Grantor shall have the right to refuse to approve any such plans or specifications or grading plan, or location or the proposed improvement, which are not suitable or desirable in its opinion.

FOURTH: That the said premises shall not be sold without first giving the grantor an option in writing for ten (10) days to purchase the same at the price and upon the same terms offered by the proposed purchaser; and that neither the said premises, nor any part thereof, shall be conveyed, leased or mortgaged without making specific reference in such instrument to the said covenants and restrictions, and conveying, leasing or mortgaging the premises subject thereto, but this requirement shall not apply to any sale pursuant to a judgment of foreclosure of any mortgage hereafter placed on said premises, nor to the delivery of a deed to a mortgagee in lieu of foreclosure of such a mortgage.

FIFTH: That these covenants and restrictions and each of them are hereby declared and agreed to be, and they shall be, taken and construed as covenants attached to and running with the land, and said covenants and restrictions shall remain in force until * * *.

In October 1969 pursuant to the third covenant set forth above, plaintiff submitted plans to defendant for the erection of a building on the property to be used as the residence and professional office of its archbishop. Defendant refused to give its approval, indicating as reason that some

of the neighbors objected. Several landowners in the immediate neighborhood, claiming to be entitled to the benefit of the covenants, have been granted leave to intervene. In fact, the covenants were exacted by defendant from all grantees of property the whole of which was at one time owned by it. It was the common grantor. The existence of a neighborhood scheme is clear, and hence there is no doubt as to the standing of the intervenors to seek enforcement of the covenants.

It is initially argued that the building for the construction of which permission is sought will not be a "private dwelling" and will therefore, both as to its erection and maintenance, be in violation of the first covenant.

Plaintiff proposes to erect a building to be used as the private residence of its archbishop in which he will also maintain professional offices. In addition to providing a dwelling for the archbishop himself, the residence will be occupied by a priest to serve as his personal attendant and by a cook and housekeeper. A personal secretary, who apparently will not live on the premises, will be present about 40 hours a week. There will be eight bedrooms. Those on the first floor, three in number, are designed for the accommodation of the domestic staff. Of those on the second floor, two will be used by the archbishop personally, one by the attending priest and the remaining two as guest rooms for visiting dignitaries. A small chapel is intended for purposes of private devotion and will not be available for public worship. There will be a dining room, dinette, library, kitchen, various utility areas and a three-car garage, as well as the ...

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