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Hill v. Cole

Decided: June 13, 1991.

DOUGLAS HILL AND CREATIVE HOME DESIGN, INC., PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
ROBERT COLE, BEVERLY LAZOFSON, JOSEPH W. HAFESH, ROBERT POLIN, FRANK D'ELIA, STEWART SPATER AND OCEAN CLUB CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION AND RONALD STABLINI, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Atlantic County.

Michels, Gruccio and D'Annunzio. The opinion of the court was delivered by D'Annunzio, J.A.D.

D'annunzio

The issue is whether a condominium developer who has sold at least 75% of the condominium units is entitled to vote its remaining units in an election of the governing board of the condominium association.

The facts are not in dispute. The Ocean Club Condominium Association (Association) is the "entity responsible for the administration of" the Ocean Club Condominium located in Atlantic City, New Jersey. See N.J.S.A. 46:8B-3b.; N.J.S.A. 46:8B-12. The Association is governed by seven trustees. The by-laws provide that three trustees "will be elected by the Unit Owners from the Tower designated as Tower I" and three "Trustees shall be elected by Unit Owners from . . . Tower II, and one (1) Trustee at large will be appointed by the Grantor." This system of electing trustees was to become operative "[w]hen Unit Owners other than the Grantors own 544 apartments." There are 725 residential units in the project; 544

units is 75% of the total units. Prior to 1990, at least 75% of the units had been sold by the developer. During the period relevant to the election at issue in this case, "the developer held approximately fifty units for sale in the ordinary course of business."*fn1

Plaintiff, Douglas Hill, is an officer and sole shareholder of plaintiff Creative Home Design, Inc., the owner of a unit in Tower I. Hill ran for a seat on the board of trustees at the annual election on August 19, 1990. There were three other candidates seeking election as Tower I's three representatives on the board. Robert Cole, Beverly Lazofson and Stewart Spater received the most votes if the developer's votes were not considered. However, Hill was elected to the board if the developer's votes were considered. The voting for Tower I was reported by the election auditor as follows:

Without Developer's With Developer's

Votes Votes

Robert Cole 1,730 1,960

Douglas Hill 1,082 1,312

Beverly Lazofson 1,237 1,237

Stewart Spater 1,293 ...


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