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Urban League of Essex County v. Township of Mahwah

Decided: February 2, 1977.

URBAN LEAGUE OF ESSEX COUNTY; NORTH JERSEY COMMUNITY UNION; KENNETH BORUCKI; AMY INGRAM; JOHN LIGON; AND JOSE MUNIZ, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
TOWNSHIP OF MAHWAH, ET AL; BOROUGH OF RAMSEY, ET AL; BOROUGH OF SADDLE RIVER, ET AL; BOROUGH OF UPPER SADDLE RIVER, ET AL, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



Bischoff, Morgan and Rizzi. The opinion of the court was delivered by Bischoff, J.A.D.

Bischoff

In this exclusionary zoning case the sole issue is standing. Plaintiffs, four individuals and two nonprofit corporations, had sought invalidation of the zoning ordinances of the four defendant municipalities, alleging their unconstitutionality by reason of their discriminatory effect in excluding potential residents on the basis of race, national origin and economic status. The suit was dismissed, on motion, for want of standing. Plaintiffs appeal.

The individual plaintiffs are:

1. Amy Ingram is black and lives with her disabled husband and six children in a "slum ghetto" in Newark. As

of the date the complaint was filed, one of her children was attending a community college in the vicinity of the four defendant municipalities. This plaintiff alleges that since there are no dormitory facilities at the college and no low-cost housing in the defendant communities, her child was compelled to live in a motel near the college at the expense of the college. This is alleged to be disruptive to the child's studies, and plaintiff asserts a right to decent, adequate and affordable housing in one of the defendant communities.

2. John Ligon is black, has a wife and two children and is a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He maintains an apartment in New York to facilitate his commuting to his employment at the Ford plant in Mahwah.

3. Jose Muniz is Hispanic, has a wife and four children and lives in Bronx, New York. He, too, works at the Ford plant in Mahwah.

4. We have been advised that Kenneth Borucki is no longer a party.

Plaintiffs Ligon and Muniz allege that they live in inadequate housing and contend they have a right to an opportunity to live in decent, adequate and affordable housing either in the community where they work or a community adjacent thereto.

The organizational plaintiffs are the Urban League of Essex County and the New Jersey Community Union, both of which are nonprofit organizations having their principal place of business in Newark. These organizations are alleged to be the medium through which their members, described in the complaint as minority oppressed persons, assert their constitutional and statutory rights.

Neither organization, nor any individual, alleges any attempt to purchase or rent any dwelling, obtain a variance, or take any other steps to ...


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