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Zoning Board of Adjustment of Township of Green Brook v. Datchko

Decided: June 21, 1976.

ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT OF THE TOWNSHIP OF GREEN BROOK, CHARLES KAZAR, ZONING OFFICER OF THE TOWNSHIP OF GREEN BROOK, TOWNSHIP OF GREEN BROOK, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
JOSEPH AND VICTORIA DATCHKO, JOHN KRASNER AND ADULT GIFT SHOPPE, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



Kole, Ard and E. Gaulkin. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kole, J.A.D.

Kole

[142 NJSuper Page 504] Defendant John Krasner leased certain premises in the Township of Green Brook from defendants Joseph and Victoria Datchko. Defendants sought and obtained site plan approval from the planning board for use of the premises as a "retail gift/souvenir store," subject to various conditions, including the approval of certain variances from the zoning ordinance by the board of adjustment (the zoning board) relating to a proposed roof-mounted sign and parking requirements. The variances were later granted by the zoning board. During the course of the variance proceedings Krasner stated that he "buys out overstock merchandise and supplies his store with it. This would

be items such as transistor radios * * * stereo tapes, all small item categories." The variances, granted April 11, 1973, were described by the board resolution as being "from the provisions of Sections 801.2-1, 801.2-5, 901.3-3 of the Zoning Ordinance to use a building with a roof sign 32 sq. ft. in size and unsurfaced parking area with parking too close to line, subject to the following conditions: (1) Accessory building be removed; (2) Balance of unpaved parking area will be paved within one year and bond will be posted to insure this."

On May 7, 1973 the building inspector issued a certificate of occupancy for the premises to be used and occupied as a "Gift Shop -- per Variance, Apr. 11, 1973." On June 21, 1973 defendant Krasner opened an "Adult Gift Shoppe," commonly known as an adult book store, which sold various sexually oriented books, magazines and devices.

On June 21, 1973 the township notified defendants in writing that the approvals and certificate of occupancy had been predicated on misrepresentations as to the use of the premises and that to "the extent that you may feel that the Certificate of Occupancy * * * authorizes the operating of an adult book store, * * * [it] is hereby withdrawn and cancelled." At or about the same time two stop notices were placed on the premises indicating, among other things, that there was no proper occupancy permit for the existing use.

On June 29, 1973 plaintiffs, the zoning board, the zoning officer (the building inspector) and the township filed a verified complaint charging defendants with having made misrepresentations as to the proposed use of the premises to the planning and zoning boards and contending that the site plan approval, variances and certificate of occupancy were granted based on such misrepresentations. They sought various forms of injunctive and other relief against defendants' continued existing use of the premises, including the voiding of the municipal approvals and certificate of occupancy. A subsequent amended complaint was filed seeking substantially the same type of relief.

As a result of the original verified complaint an order was granted directing defendants to show cause why temporary relief should not be afforded plaintiffs pending a plenary final hearing. After a hearing on this order to show cause the trial judge entered an order of July 16, 1973 enjoining defendants until further order from using the premises "for the sale, display or otherwise dealing of [sic] the merchandise shown in Exhibits P-5 through P-13." The exhibits referred to photographs in evidence of sexually oriented materials being displayed for sale in the shop. The order also granted defendants leave to apply for a short date for plenary trial of the action, and directed plaintiffs to supply defendants with copies of the mentioned exhibits.

Defendants thereafter moved for summary judgment, contending that the proceedings instituted by plaintiffs, entitled as an action in lieu of prerogative writs, could not be maintained by the municipality, the zoning board and the zoning officer. An order denying this motion was entered February 13, 1974.

Proceedings purporting to be in the nature of contempt of the restraining order of July 16, 1973 were then instituted. Following a hearing defendants Krasner and Adult Gift Shoppe were held in contempt of court and fines were levied by an order of February 27, 1974.

After a plenary hearing of the case on the merits before a judge sitting without a jury, a judgment in favor of plaintiffs was entered on June 26, 1974. The judgment was based on the judge's determination that defendants had in fact intentionally falsely misrepresented to the various municipal agencies the use to which the premises would be put. By reason thereof the judgment declared that the planning board's site plan approval, the board of adjustment's grant of the variances, and the issued certificate of occupancy were void. It further directed that the premises be closed immediately unless and until a new site plan approval was obtained from the planning board, required variances were granted by the proper municipal officials, and a new certificate

of occupancy was issued by the building inspector. It also permanently enjoined defendant Krasner in any capacity from any use or occupancy of the premises unless and until the ...


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