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Marini v. Borough of Woodstown

Decided: December 16, 1976.

DOLORES MARINI & FRANK CROSS, T/A WOODSTOWN CAKE SHOP AND FRANK CROSS & LESTER FORD AND DOLORES MARINI, INDIVIDUALLY, PETITIONERS-RESPONDENTS AND CROSS-APPELLANTS,
v.
BOROUGH OF WOODSTOWN, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT



Bischoff, Morgan and E. Gaulkin.

Per Curiam

Defendant Borough of Woodstown (borough) appeals from a final decision of the Director of the Division of Housing and Urban Renewal, Department of Community Affairs, awarding relocation assistance payments to petitioners pursuant to the Relocation Assistance Act (N.J.S.A. 20:4-1 et seq.).

Hilda Montaigne was, in 1973 and for many years prior thereto, the owner of the lands and buildings involved herein which are situate in the borough. For 15 years petitioners, Dolores Marini and Frank Cross, trading as the Woodstown Cake Shop, rented the building from Mrs. Montaigne at a rental of $175 a month. The land beside and behind the building was leased to the borough and served as a parking lot. Because Mrs. Montaigne was advancing in years and

in order to insure the continued use of the lands for a municipal parking lot, officials of the borough approached Mrs. Montaigne on or about August 6, 1973, seeking to purchase the land which the borough was then leasing. Mrs. Montaigne agreed to sell, but only if all the lands and building were purchased. Agreement was reached between the parties and on November 26, 1973, a deed conveying the lands and premises to the borough was delivered.

Petitioner Marini testified that though she had been told by Mrs. Montaigne of the sale of the lands to the borough, she had not been informed where to pay the rent and did not pay any. In March 1974 the borough instituted an action to recover the rent due on the building, as a result of which Mrs. Marini paid all rent due and continued to pay the rent through July 1974.

On March 29, 1974 the borough served petitioner with a notice to vacate the premises on August 6, 1974. She opened negotiations with the borough, claiming entitlement to relocation expenses under N.J.S.A. 20:4-1 et seq. (the Relocation Assistance Act) and N.J.S.A. 52:31B-1 et seq. (the Relocation Assistance Law of 1967). During the course of the negotiations Mrs. Marini was notified that she had "until July 20, 1974 to find a suitable location and submit bids for any relocation services or materials which [she] may need under N.J.S.A. 52:31B," and was offered assistance in finding a new location.

Petitioner failed to move by the indicated date but at a later time obtained estimates of the cost of moving the bakery, which estimates ranged from $9,000 to $11,000.

Petitioner Marini and three other people lived in rooms over the bakery and all moved out of the rooms, incurring some expenses in doing so, but Marini remained in the bakery.

The borough thereafter determined that they had no need of the property for public purposes, and since Marini was having difficulty in relocating, the notice to quit was withdrawn on October 29, 1974. The notice stated that the

"month to month tenancy at the rental of $175 per month with tenant paying water and sewer excess may continue."

The bakery equipment continues to remain on the premises, but it is not being operated. There is evidence that the building is substandard and could not pass the health inspection for the year 1974.

By letter dated November 12, 1974 petitioner sought and obtained a hearing before the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs to determine "the extent of the Borough's ...


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