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Rudderow v. Township Committee of Township of Mount Laurel

Decided: December 4, 1972.

WILLIAM S. RUDDEROW, WILLIAM X. BONNER AND MARYANNE A. BUSHA, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
THE TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE OF THE TOWNSHIP OF MOUNT LAUREL, THE TOWNSHIP OF MOUNT LAUREL, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANT, AND HANNAH A. ROSING, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Collester, Leonard and Halpern. The opinion of the court was delivered by Halpern, J.A.D.

Halpern

This is an appeal from a final judgment setting aside a tentative approval granted by Mount Laurel Township to appellant for a planned unit development project known as "Cross Keys."

Since the opinion of the court below 114 N.J. Super. 104 sets forth the legislative history of New Jersey's Municipal Planned Unit Development Act (1967), N.J.S.A. 40:55-54 et seq. , hereinafter referred to as P.U.D., it will not be repeated herein. The legislative goals are fully set forth in N.J.S.A. 40:55-55. In summary, P.U.D. is a recognition by the Legislature that the "Euclidean" (traditional) zoning approach, adopted in New Jersey about 50

years ago, had outlived its usefulness, and that new and more creative flexible approaches had to be adopted to overcome "Euclidean" zoning inequities and deficiencies, and enable municipalities to provide for housing and other public needs for the present and reasonably foreseeable future. P.U.D. is the antithesis of the exclusive districting principle which is the mainstay of "Euclidean" zoning. The latter approach divided a community into districts, and explicitly mandated segregated uses. P.U.D., on the other hand, is an instrument of land use control which auguments and supplements existing master plans and zoning ordinances, and permits a mixture of land uses on the same tract (i e. residential, commercial and industrial). It also enables municipalities to negotiate with developers concerning proposed uses, bulk, density and set back zoning provisions, which may be contrary to existing ordinances if the planned project is determined to be in the public and individual homeowner's interest. It also recognizes the importance of encouraging and making it financially worthwhile for developers and investors to undertake P.U.D. projects by permitting a more intensified utilization of vacant land which is scarce and skyrocketing in price.

The Legislature directed, "This act shall be construed most favorably to municipalities, its intention being to give all municipalities the fullest and most complete powers possible concerning the subject matter hereof. * * *" N.J.S.A. 40:55-67.

Mount Laurel Township, after extended study, adopted its comprehensive P.U.D. ordinance in December 1967, and patterned it after N.J.S.A. 40:55-54 et seq. It is apparent that a great deal of planning and thought went into the preparation of the ordinance so that what was primarily a rural farming community could be developed to meet "* * * increasing urbanization and of growing demand for housing of all types and design; to provide for necessary commercial and educational facilities conveniently located to such housing; * * *." In short, the ordinance sought to

utilize the P.U.D. approach as a zoning tool to accomplish the "Objectives of Development" more fully described in Article III-A of the ordinance. It is highly significant that N.J.S.A. 40:55-57(a) and Article III-A, par. A(2), of the ordinance go beyond the model statute suggested in the Urban Land Institute Technical Bulletin 52 (1965) which was designed for residential development and other nonresidential uses ancillary to the residential use. The state statute and the ordinance specifically provide:

(a) Permitted Uses. An ordinance adopted pursuant to this act shall set forth the uses permitted in a planned unit development, which uses may include and shall be limited to (1) dwelling units in detached, semidetached, attached, groups of attached or clustered or multistoried structures, or any combination thereof; and (2) any nonresidential use, to the extent such nonresidential use is designed and intended to serve the residents of the planned unit development, and such other uses as exist or may reasonably be expected to exist in the future, and (3) public and private educational facilities, and (4) industrial uses and buildings. * * *

Appellant made a preliminary application to construct "Cross Keys" as a P.U.D. project in April 1969. It was not until April 1970 that tentative approval was granted subject to 53 conditions. During that year "Cross Keys" was intensively discussed and reviewed by the township committee, the township planning board, the county planning board, the State Department of Community Affairs, the Mount Laurel School Board, the Mount Laurel Recreation Commission, the Municipal Utilities Authority, the township engineer, the township planner, and the township solicitor. In addition, five public hearings were held at which interested citizens were heard.

As tentatively approved, "Cross Keys" involved 162.6 acres of land at the intersection of Route 73 and Church Road, in Mount Laurel. It was designed to encompass five residential villages having a total of 975 individual housing units limited to garden apartments, medium-rise apartments, ...


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