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Cinnaminson Motel Owners Association v. Township of Cinnaminson

Decided: December 1, 1987.

CINNAMINSON MOTEL OWNERS ASSOCIATION, AN UNINCORPORATED ASSOCIATION OF MOTEL OWNERS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TOWNSHIP OF CINNAMINSON, TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE OF THE TOWNSHIP OF CINNAMINSON, WILLIAM SHARP AND JOHN DOE, DEFENDANTS



Haines, A.j.s.c.

Haines

[231 NJSuper Page 165] This suit challenges Cinnaminson Township's ordinance regulating the operation and maintenance of "tourist camps, tourist cabins, trailer camps, tourist homes, rooming houses, inns or hotels where sleeping accommodations are furnished. . . ." Plaintiff Cinnaminson Motel Owners Association ("association") claims that the ordinance is unenforceable by virtue of the provisions of the Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law (the "law"), N.J.S.A. 55:13A-1 et seq., and the regulations promulgated thereunder. This court, responding to an application to restrain

the enforcement of the ordinance, agrees that it cannot be enforced.

A. Construction of the Statute and the Ordinance.

N.J.S.A. 55:13A-25(b), part of the Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law, provides:

This act is not intended, and nothing in this act shall be construed, to preclude the right of any municipality to adopt and enforce ordinances or regulations more restrictive than this act or any rules or regulations promulgated thereunder. [Emphasis supplied]

Thus, the statute does not preempt the field. "No more explicit an expression that preemption has not occurred could be imagined." Dome Realty, Inc. v. Paterson, 83 N.J. 212, 233 (1980). Municipalities are therefore free to adopt ordinances more restrictively regulating multiple dwellings.*fn1 The association does not argue to the contrary. Its contention is that the Cinnaminson ordinance is not "more restrictive" than the act and the regulations adopted thereunder.*fn2

Cinnaminson's ordinance, adopted several years prior to the passage of the law, is a police power enactment authorized by N.J.S.A. 40:48-2 and -2.12a. Section 2.12a expressly permits the enactment of ordinances "to regulate buildings and structures and their use and occupation. . . ." Nevertheless, the subsequently enacted Motel and Multiple Dwelling Law, covering the same subject, supersedes the ordinance unless the latter is "more restrictive." As the Supreme Court said in Wagner v. Newark, 24 N.J. 467 (1957), "attached to every ordinance adopted by a municipality is the implied condition that it must yield to the predominant power of the State." Id. at 480. McQuillan, Municipal Corporations (3d ed. 1980), ยง 21.32 amplifies the rule:

It is a general requisite to the validity of an ordinance that it conform to, and not violate, general statutes, and, consistently, a general statute repeals an earlier ordinance to which it is repugnant, unless contrary legislative intention is manifested. [at 240]

The legislation here in question is not intended to repeal the Cinnaminson ordinance if it is "more restrictive" than the act. It is that hard-to-define and hard-to-apply standard with which this court must deal. No doubt standards may be expressed in general terms construed to reflect legislative intent. Our Appellate Division, in Matter of the "Analysis of Walsh Trucking Occupancy and Sprinkler System," 215 N.J. Super. 222 (App.Div.1987), said:

Our courts have long recognized that a legislative standard may be expressed in general terms. To avoid administrative arbitrariness, such a general legislative standard is construed in light of the regulatory objectives of the underlying legislative enactment. Our courts have also recognized that adequate procedural safeguards may provide greater protection against arbitrary administrative action than highly detailed legislative standards. [at 228-229; citations omitted]

The regulatory objectives of the law are clear. It insures uniform compliance with minimum standards covering the construction and use of all multiple dwellings in every New Jersey municipality. It also protects against arbitrary action through its procedural requirements: advisory consultations, educational services, rules and regulations and administrative hearings. These ...


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