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Diocese of Metuchen v. Township of Piscataway

Decided: September 13, 1991.

DIOCESE OF METUCHEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TOWNSHIP OF PISCATAWAY AND THE TOWNSHIP COUNCIL OF PISCATAWAY, DEFENDANTS



Berman, J.s.c.

Berman

While at first blush, this action by complaint in lieu of prerogative writ may appear jurisprudentially esoteric, at least two issues are of seeming novelty.

Does the Department of Community Affairs, or the local municipality, have jurisdiction of off-street parking requirements for mausoleums or is the jurisdiction shared?

If a setback restriction, one part of a comprehensive zoning scheme, is invalidated must an otherwise valid height restriction be invalidated because of its interrelationship to the setback?

These issues arise in the following manner.

Factual History.

Plaintiff, Diocese of Metuchen (hereinafter referred to as "diocese"), is a non-profit religious corporation of the State of New Jersey, which owns and operates Resurrection Cemetery in the Township of Piscataway. The cemetery consists of 105.7 acres and is situated in the R-15 zone.

Defendant, Township of Piscataway (hereinafter referred to as "township"), is a municipal corporation in the State of New Jersey, and the township council (hereinafter referred to as "council"), is its governing body.

In the fall of 1990, representatives of the diocese met with township officials to discuss their plans for the construction of a mausoleum to be built within the cemetery. The testimony as to the substance of those meetings was somewhat brief and vague. However, the result of those meetings was clear and undenied. As a result of township concerns regarding a proposed mausoleum, the township introduced Ordinance 91-3 on January 15, 1991; and adopted it February 19, 1991, which substantially impacted upon the diocese's property. For the facility of all concerned, and because of the significance of a number of sections of that law, all pertinent parts are set forth:

A. Section 21-501, "Schedule of general requirements", hereby amended by adding the following conditional use permitted within RR-1 Zones: "number 8. Cemeteries (see Section 21-1013)."

B. Section 21-1013 shall be added to provide as follows:

Cemeteries -- Cemeteries shall be permitted in the R, R -M, BP -I, and BP -II Zones, subject to the following conditions;

a. Minimum lot dimensions:

Area Lot Lot Lot

Width Depth Frontage

15 acres 800 feet 800 feet 800 feet

b. Minimum setbacks:

Front Side Rear

PB 300 feet 300 feet 300 feet

AB 300 feet 300 feet 300 feet

c. Maximum lot coverage -- 20% for all structures

d. Maximum building height

PB 35 feet

AB 18 feet

e. Primary access to the property shall be by other than a local street, as defined in the Land Subdivision Ordinance of the Township of Piscataway.

f. One parking space shall be provided for every 300 square feet of office space plus one (1) space for every 500 square feet of garage/maintenance area, plus 15 spaces for any area designated as proposed mausoleum area. In addition to the 15 spaces required for any mausoleum, a loading and unloading zone of two additional spaces may be required as reserved ...


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