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Rumson Country Club v. Commissioner of Community Affairs

Decided: May 5, 1975.

RUMSON COUNTRY CLUB, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF COMMUNITY AFFAIRS, STATE OF NEW JERSEY, RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT



Michels, Morgan and Milmed.

Per Curiam

[134 NJSuper Page 56] Petitioner Rumson Country Club appeals from a final decision and order of the Commissioner of Community Affairs, State of New Jersey, which adopted the report and recommended decision of the hearing examiner of the Division of Housing and Urban Renewal, Department of Community Affairs, determining that Rumson Country Club was subject to the provisions of the Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law (N.J.S.A. 55:13A-1, et seq.), and required it to register the building with the Bureau of Housing Inspection and pay the required registration and

inspection fees. The final decision and order also granted a further hearing to Rumson Country Club with respect to the abatement of violations of the "Regulations for Construction and Maintenance of Hotels and Multiple Dwellings" (N.J.A.C. 5:10-1.1 et seq.), promulgated by the Department of Community Affairs pursuant to the law.

The pertinent facts were stipulated by the parties. The building involved is a private club house owned by the "Rumson Country Club." It was formerly a private home which was converted to a clubhouse with certain additions, principally a men's locker room and an enclosed porch and dining area. The clubhouse is not open to the public at large and is available only to its members and their guests. The club has a liquor license with all the restrictions inherent to such a limited license.

The first floor of the clubhouse consists of a kitchen, dining room, bar room, men's locker room and lounge, and extra dining area. The second floor contains a ladies' locker room, ladies' room and lounge, and three double bedrooms and private baths. The three double bedrooms are available solely to members or their guests and, in fact are used very little. The third floor is occupied by the club manager and club bartender, who live on the premises for the convenience of the club. The club manager has two bedrooms and two baths and the bartender has a bedroom and bath. There is another bedroom which is not now used for any purpose but which was formerly occupied by another club employee. The third floor living accommodations are for staff use only and under no circumstances are they available for use by members or guests. The bedrooms in the club as they presently exist, except for redecoration and installation of a sprinkler system, have been in the same form as they were when the building was adopted for club purposes in or about 1948.

An inspection of the Rumson Country Club facilities disclosed various violations of the aforementioned regulations,

and an inspection report and order of the Commissioner was mailed to Rumson Country Club directing it to abate the violations. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 55:13A-18 Rumson Country Club requested and was granted a hearing before the Commissioner of Community Affairs. On the basis of the stipulated facts the hearing examiner rendered his report and recommended decision, which was adopted by the Director of Housing and Urban Renewal and became the final decision and order of the Commissioner.

The Rumson Country Club appeals, contending that (1) the Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law does not apply to it as it is a private social club; (2) the law is unconstitutional since it does not contain sufficient standards for determining when persons "live independently of each other," within the meaning of the term "multiple dwelling" as defined in N.J.S.A. 55:13A-3(k), and (3) the regulations promulgated by the Department of Community Affairs are without statutory authority and therefore void. We disagree.

The Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law has as its declared policy "the protection of the health and welfare of the residents of [New Jersey] in order to assure the provision therefor of decent, standard and safe units of dwelling space." N.J.S.A. 55:13A-2. The Commissioner is expressly empowered to enter any hotel or multiple dwelling and to make such inspection as is reasonably necessary to carry out the provisions of this act (N.J.S.A. 55:13A-6), and is expressly empowered to issue an order requiring the owner of the hotel or multiple dwelling to terminate or cause to be terminated any violation thereby discovered (N.J.S.A. 55:13A-16). The Commissioner is also granted the power to issue an order directing that the hotel or multiple dwelling be vacated, and that the violation be corrected within a period specified by the order in the event that the violation constitutes an imminent hazard to the

health, safety or welfare of the occupants thereof. ...


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