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Sente v. Mayor and Municipal Council

Decided: March 28, 1973.

STEVEN SENTE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MAYOR AND MUNICIPAL COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CLIFTON ET AL., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



Lewis, Carton and Mintz.

Per Curiam

This appeal involves a challenge to the validity of an ordinance of the City of Clifton establishing minimum floor space requirements for housing units.

The ordinance, as amended in February 1970, provides in pertinent part:

Space use and location requirements.

No person shall occupy or let to another for occupancy any dwelling or dwelling unit for the purpose of living therein, which does not comply with the following requirements:

(a) Every dwelling unit shall contain at least 150 square feet of floor space for each occupant thereof up to a maximum of two occupants

and at least 100 additional square feet of floor space for every additional occupant thereof, the floor space to be calculated on the basis of total habitable area.

Prior to the 1970 amendment the ordinance required 150 square feet for the first occupant and 100 square feet for each additional occupant.

Plaintiff Sente's action was prompted by Clifton's attempt to enforce the ordinance, the effect of which would have been to require him and his family to move from their 4 1/2-room garden apartment. That apartment had 540 square feet of living space. The amended ordinance requires 800 square feet of living space, since it was occupied by plaintiff, his wife, and five children.

In October 1970 the city housing director informed plaintiff that there would be a six-month grace period on enforcement of the ordinance to allow him and others similarly situated to relocate.

The matter came before the trial court on motion and cross-motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff's counsel represented to the court that plaintiff, who was superintendent of the garden apartment complex in which his apartment was located, received his quarters rent-free in addition to his monthly wages, and that if he was obliged to move he would undoubtedly lose his job as superintendent. He also represented that plaintiff's wife suffered from an unspecified emotional problem, which, upon a doctor's recommendation, required that he be with her as much as possible. He acknowledged that plaintiff's five children shared the two bedrooms of the apartment and that the parents slept on a sofa-bed in the living room. He also conceded on oral argument that "Mrs. Sente realizes right now that her apartment is not adequate for her and her five children."

The court had before it an affidavit of defendants' expert affirming the existence of a correlation between a minimum dwelling space requirement and health, and also affirming the reasonableness of the particular minimum space requirements ...


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