On appeal from New Jersey Department of the Treasury, Division of Tax Appeals.
Fritz, Polow and Joelson. The opinion of the court was delivered by Joelson, J.A.D.
The City of Perth Amboy appeals from a determination in the Tax Court holding certain properties of Perth Amboy General Hospital exempt from real property taxation. We affirm.
The hospital filed petitions of appeal to the Division of Tax Appeals from judgments of the Middlesex County Board of Taxation. These petitions sought exemptions for the years 1975 through 1978 for various properties owned by the hospital in the city. There were 26 petitions in all. A group of 20 involved units in a condominium located a mile and one-half from the hospital. The remaining six petitions involved properties in the immediate vicinity of the hospital. All the 26 properties were held to be exempt by the judge.
The 20 condominium units are part of a development containing 38 units. They were purchased to house resident and intern
physicians and their families. These housing accommodations consist of three bedrooms, living room, dining room and kitchen. Each unit is an air-conditioned duplex, containing a basement and small back yard, and is provided to the physicians free of charge. They and their families share with the other occupants a swimming pool, parking lot and playground, the proportionate maintenance costs of which are paid by the hospital and the other nonhospital occupants.
The principal question to be resolved is whether these 20 units qualify for tax exemptions. N.J.S.A. 54:4-3.6 provides exemptions for "all buildings actually and exclusively used in the work of associations and corporations organized exclusively for . . . hospital purposes . . . ." The city does not dispute that the hospital is an association or corporation organized exclusively for hospital purposes, but it urges that the 20 units owned by the hospital are not actually and exclusively used in the work of the hospital. To support this contention, it relies on two points. First it urges that since the condominiums are located 1 1/2 miles from the hospital complex they are not reasonably related to a hospital purpose. In the alternative it argues that since the premises are condominium units, there cannot be actual and exclusive use for hospital purposes as required by statute.*fn1
In support of its point that the condominium units cannot be held reasonably related to a hospital purpose, the city relies entirely on the fact that they are located a mile and a half from the hospital itself. To support this argument, the city cites Long Branch v. Monmouth Medical Center , 138 N.J. Super. 524, 532
(App.Div.1976), aff'd o.b. 73 N.J. 179 (1977). Initially, we observe that the discussion in that case of the proximity of the facilities to the hospital was with respect to consideration of the "actually and exclusively used" requirement rather than with regard to whether any hospital purpose was being served, the subject of the city's first argument here. We recognize that the two aspects have much in common, however, and that the Monmouth Medical Center case impinges on the question of hospital purpose. Although we did not deal specifically with hospital purpose, being aware that the building in that case was a block and a half removed from the hospital itself, we found that it accommodated "housing facilities . . . in or near the hospital."
In the matter before us we have considered all the factors necessary for our determination, including the fact that the condominium involved is located not a block and a half, but a mile and a half from the hospital. We have also considered such uncontradicted testimony as that regarding the fact that residents and interns increasingly now are married persons rather then single persons (as they were as short a time ago as 15 years), and that adequate housing in the general Perth Amboy area is extremely difficult to obtain. Accordingly, we agree with the determination that, all circumstances considered, the distance separating the condominium from the hospital is not sufficient by itself to deprive the condominium of a "hospital purpose."
In its brief, the city argues against exemption by reason of the distance of the housing facility from the hospital. However, in these days of complex demography, serious urban housing shortages and increased sociological emphasis on the necessity for both preventive and curative health care, more must be considered than the mere 1 1/2 mile distance of the facilities from the hospital in determining ...