In this action, a conviction for violating a local zoning ordinance restricting mobile homes to duly licensed mobile home parks is appealed on the basis that the ordinance violates the New Jersey Constitution.
The facts are as follows. In August 1984, defendant Ronald E. Temple placed a mobile home, in which he intended to reside, on a parcel of land owned by his parents in Fairfield Township, New Jersey. Defendant was advised by the township zoning officer that the placement of the mobile home violated the township's zoning ordinances. When defendant failed to remove the mobile home, a complaint was filed by the zoning officer.
On September 10, 1984, a hearing was held in municipal court. Defendant was found guilty of violating Ordinance 11-2.1 of the Township and fined $500.00 plus court costs. Defendant appealed the municipal court conviction on September 18, 1984. Counsel was assigned to represent defendant.
On November 5, 1984, the Township sought and was granted an order to show cause in the Chancery Division why defendant should not be compelled to remove the mobile home in question, returnable on November 30, 1984. On the return date of the order to show cause, defendant failed to appear, although he was personally served. Judgment was entered ordering the
removal of the mobile home and authorizing the Township to have it removed at defendant's expense if necessary.
Application was made on January 7, 1985 by defendant's appointed counsel for an order to show cause with temporary restraints. The Township was restrained from enforcing the judgment entered on November 30, 1984 and ordered to show cause why that judgment should not be vacated. The return date of this order to show cause was adjourned to allow defendant's substituted counsel the opportunity to file a motion to set aside defendant's municipal court conviction. The chancery action and municipal court appeal were consolidated sua sponte by the Court.
Defendant has moved to set aside his municipal court conviction on the ground that Fairfield Township Ordinance 11-2.1 is unconstitutional. Defendant also argues that the ordinance conflicts with N.J.S.A. 40:55D-104 et seq., The Affordable Housing Act of 1983, and is therefore null and void. Finally, defendant argues that he was denied a fair trial at the municipal court level because he was given insufficient notice to prepare a defense and he was not apprised of his right to be represented by counsel.
The Township ordinance which defendant was convicted of violating states:
11-2.1 Except in a duly licensed mobile home park, or as otherwise provided for in this chapter, it shall be unlawful for any person to park, keep, house, maintain or to dwell in or otherwise occupy any mobile home anywhere within ...