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State v. Stulman

Decided: July 2, 1975.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, BY THE COMMISSIONER OF TRANSPORTATION, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JULIUS STULMAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Kolovsky, Lynch and Allcorn. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kolovsky, P.J.A.D.

Kolovsky

Prior to the institution of these condemnation proceedings in March 1967, the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority in cooperation had undertaken the substantial work involved in, among other things, the improvement and enlargement of ramps appurtenant to a state highway (Routes 1 and 9), the construction of part of new State Highway 78 and of new access roads, and the enlargement of the Turnpike's access facilities and plaza. A number of toll booths were to be added to the existing toll booths located at the easterly end of the Turnpike's plaza which itself lay to the southeast of the property owned by defendant Julius Stulman.

The complaint filed by plaintiff State Commissioner of Transportation sought to obtain title to 3.843 acres of the 9.2347-acre tract owned by Stulman, as well as specified rights in his remaining property, for grading of two roads designated as "Frontage Road" and "Road to Motel," the construction and maintenance of a headwall, subsurface drains and appurtenances and a temporary road. Also to be taken was the "owner's right of direct access to and from the Freeway, except that the owner shall have the right of direct access to and from the Frontage Road as far as the line marked 'Limit of Access.'"

Joined as parties defendant to the original complaint were only Mr. and Mrs. Stulman, the bank holding a mortgage on the property, a tenant of part of the property, the State by reason of franchise tax liens, the City of Newark by reason of real estate tax liens and United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company, described as

[the] successor of The New York Bay Railroad Company, a corporation of New Jersey, by merger February 29, 1956, which by reason

of a reservation of a roadway in the deed from The New York Bay Railroad Company, a corporation of New Jersey and The Pennsylvania Railroad Company, a corporation of Pennsylvania, to Newark Airway Terminal, a corporation of New Jersey, dated October 6, 1952, recorded in said Essex County Register's Office December 10, 1952 in Book 3094 of Deeds at Page 10, has or may claim to have an interest therein.

Thereafter, by two amendments of the complaint, Merit Realty Co., Airport Interchange Properties, Inc., Bay Avenue Corporation and M & F Service Corporation, owners of neighboring properties, were added as parties defendant by reason of their status as holders of rights of way easements as set forth in four specified deeds.*fn1

On appeal by both plaintiff and defendants from an award made by condemnation commissioners, the jury found that the value of the land and other property rights taken and the damages sustained by the property to which Stulman still retained title totalled $440,500. Defendants Stulman and Airport Interchange Properties, Inc. (Airport) join in an appeal to this court.

Prior to the taking the westerly line of the Stulman tract, 797 feet in length, ran along the easterly line of a ramp leading to an existing state highway (Routes 1 and 9). The ramp began at a point southwest of the southwesterly corner of the Stulman tract. The line separating the ramp and the Stulman property was at the bottom of the fill on which the ramp was constructed, fill which was three feet

high at the southwest corner of the Stulman property and rose to a height of 21 feet at its northwest corner.

The northerly line of the Stulman tract was about 544 feet long, its easterly line 587 feet long and its southerly line 634 feet long. The southerly line was also the northerly line of lands belonging to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, with "a span of vacant land" extending from that line a distance of about 150 feet to a paved road which ran in a westerly direction from the plaza on which were located the Turnpike's toll booths.

The 3.8 acres taken by the State consisted of a parcel of land roughly L-shaped. It included substantially all of the most westerly 116 feet of the Stulman property and the southerly portion thereof to a depth which varied from about 100 feet to 200 feet.

As we note later, there then existed a 20-foot paved roadway which is delineated on a survey or map made by Clarke & Hartman, surveyors, in two sections, Route A and Route B. Route B ran in an east-west direction across the southerly portion of the Stulman tract taken by the State. It also extended in a southwesterly direction beyond the westerly line of the Stulman tract a distance of some 135 feet to the foot of the adjoining ramp. It also extended, beyond the easterly line of the Stulman tract, into lands of the United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company (United) and then curved, to form the section referred to as Route A, running northerly through United's lands and southerly through lands of United and of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to the Turnpike's plaza.

Route B furnished a means of ingress from the foot of the above-mentioned ramp across properties belonging to the Turnpike and the State into the Stulman property and through it, by means of Route A, to the several properties -- including that of appellant Airport Interchange Properties, Inc. (Airport) -- lying to the east and north of Route A.

Route A furnished a means of egress in a southerly direction from those properties and the Stulman property into the Turnpike's property at a point beyond the plaza proper, thus permitting use in a westerly direction of a road running from the Turnpike plaza -- a road which according to Stulman's expert is "sometimes called Port Street at that point." One using the latter road could then, at points lying southeast of the southwest corner of the Stulman property, either (1) turn therefrom in a northerly direction to the foot of the ramp above-mentioned and then proceed up the ramp or into the Stulman property, or (2) turn in a southerly direction into the "Airport traffic circle" and proceed around it to reach the entrance toll booths of the Turnpike, or (3) continue westerly on a narrower road leading under State Highway 1 and 9.

As the result of the taking, and a deed dated December 9, 1966 by which United conveyed to the State adjacent lands and an easement over lands which form part of two 50-foot-wide roads thereafter constructed by the State, Route B and the southerly one-third of Route A were eliminated. One of the new roads, designated as "Frontage Road," begins at a point in the westerly line of the portion of the Stulman tract which was not taken and then runs adjacent to Stulman's present property in a northerly direction some 375 feet to the property's northerly line, where it turns to the west and runs under Highway 1 and 9 to connect with a series of highways. The other road, designated as "Road to Motel," starts at the northerly terminus of the preexisting 20-foot paved roadway shown as Route A and then runs westerly along Stulman's northerly line to join with the "Frontage Road" at the westerly line of the remaining Stulman property.

Access to those roads, both for ingress and egress, is available to Airport by use of the 20-foot roadway which adjoins its property. Access to those roads, both for ingress and egress, is ...


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