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Dover Township Homeowners and Tenants Association v. Township of Dover

Decided: April 2, 1971.

DOVER TOWNSHIP HOMEOWNERS AND TENANTS ASSOCIATION, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
TOWNSHIP OF DOVER, PLANNING BOARD OF THE TOWNSHIP OF DOVER, DEFENDANTS, AND HOVSONS, INC., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Kilkenny, Halpern and Lane. The opinion of the court was delivered by Lane, J.A.D.

Lane

Defendant Hovsons, Inc. appeals from a judgment setting aside "tentative and final approvals granted by the defendant Planning Board of the Township of Dover to Defendant Hovsons, Inc., in connection with its application for a P.U.D. project pursuant to the Planned Unit Development ordinance and statute, * * *," and enjoining the Township of Dover, the Planning Board of the Township of Dover and Hovsons, Inc. "from further proceeding under the P.U.D. application of defendant Hovsons, Inc., or from doing, constructing or causing any building or activity on the site pursuant to said application."

On February 25, 1969 the township adopted "An ordinance Allowing Planned Unit Developments In Certain Areas of the Township of Dover, County of Ocean, Enacted Pursuant to the Powers Granted In R.S. 40:55-54 et seq., Known As the 'Municipal Planned Unit Development Act (1967)' In and for the State of New Jersey." The ordinance provided in section 5 that the planning board was the municipal authority to administer the powers under the ordinance.

Anticipating the adoption of the ordinance, Hovsons on February 13, 1969 submitted an application to the planning

board for tentative approval of a Planned Unit Development consisting of 1,344 housing units and for final approval of the first section of the P.U.D. consisting of 32 units. Notice of a public hearing to be held by the planning board on March 3, 1969 was published in a local newspaper on February 20. In addition, notices were sent to the vast majority of people living within 200 feet of the property involved.

At the public hearing the attorney representing the applicant requested that the witnesses testifying in support of the application be sworn. The chairman of the planning board, however, felt that swearing the witnesses was not necessary. Two witnesses testified in support of the application. At the conclusion of the hearing a motion was made to approve the preliminary plan subject "to road pattern and topo meeting the Township Engineer's approval, problem regarding the intersection of Indian Hill Road caused by the high elevation of land at this point, some provision made for person coming south entering the site to be worked out with the County. Additional information regarding parking, entrance and exit, and the manner in which the model area will be used after project is completely sold." The motion was unanimously adopted. There were no "findings of fact related to the specific proposal" nor were the reasons for the approval given; nor did the motion "set forth with particularity in what respects the plan would or would not be in the public interest * * *," as required by N.J.S.A. 40:55-61(b). At the same meeting final approval was given for the model area subject to the same conditions. No transcript of the hearing was made as required by N.J.S.A. 40:55-60(b).

The application that was submitted stated that the site to be covered by the development was made up of 22 parcels comprising approximately 400 acres. It stated:

The site is made up of approximately 22 in number of parcels as they are presently shown on the Dover Township Tax Map in

Blocks 442, 443 and 414. Hovson's Inc. owns in fee approximately 115 acres of this land, and with respect to the remaining acreage has entered into written contracts to purchase.

Hovsons obtained building permits for the model area on March 21, 1969 under which ten model homes have been constructed.

By letter dated May 8, 1969 the township attorney wrote to the township clerk sending a copy to Mr. Hovnanian, president of Hovsons, Inc. The letter stated that the attorney had made a review of two applications submitted to the planning board for approval of Planned Unit Developments, one of which was the application of Hovsons. He pointed out that a date had been set for the public hearing before the adoption of the ordinance and that there had been no written resolution granting approval "setting forth ...


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