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Dolecky v. Borough of Riverton

Decided: June 1, 1987.

THOMAS DOLECKY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BOROUGH OF RIVERTON, DEFENDANT



Haines, A.j.s.c.

Haines

Thomas Dolecky's home is situated on the Delaware River in Riverton, New Jersey. Bank Avenue, a private road, runs through it at a point approximately 50 ft. from the edge of the river. A grassy area between Bank Avenue and the river, owned by Dolecky, has become a haven for members of the public whose frolics there have become annoying. Dolecky complains of littering and rowdy, disruptive, loud and unpleasant behavior.

Riverton claims that the public has a prescriptive right of peaceful access to the river over plaintiff's property as the result of adverse use for a period of more than 100 years. Dolecky does not challenge this assertion for the purposes of the present application although it may require a trial. He points out, however, that other uses to which the public is putting his property are not permitted under any theory or factual contention advanced by the Borough.

Dolecky has placed two 12" X 24" wooden signs on the riverfront portion of his property, each of which states: "PRIVATE PROPERTY -- NO TRESPASSING." Riverton's zoning ordinance permits signs in Dolecky's zone only as follows:

A. For accessory residential uses, one sign or nameplate showing only the name and profession or occupation of the user. Such sign shall not exceed two (2) square feet in area.

B. For all permitted uses, not more than two (2) temporary signs, neither of which shall exceed nine (9) square feet in area on the premises pertaining to the construction, lease, rent or sale of a building or premises; and a name plate or bulletin board not exceeding twenty (20) square feet, at the entrance to a church, an educational building or similar institution.

Dolecky's signs violate these provisions and the Riverton zoning officer has filed a complaint against him so charging. He has responded by filing a complaint in lieu of prerogative writ in this court seeking to enjoin the enforcement of the ordinance and has obtained an order temporarily providing that relief. This opinion, written after consideration of briefs and oral argument, makes that injunction permanent.

A. The Trespass Statute

One who goes upon private property with notice and without permission is a petty disorderly person. N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3b, provides:

A person commits a petty disorderly persons offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by:

(1) Actual communication to the actor; or

(2) Posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the ...


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