On appeal from the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Cape May County.
R.s. Cohen, Arnold M. Stein*fn1 and Kestin. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kestin, J.s.c. (temporarily assigned).
The opinion of the court was delivered by
KESTIN, J.S.C. (temporarily assigned)
In 1930, Minnie Weiner acquired title to lots 1 through 12 of block 65A in the Borough of Wildwood Crest. The tract fronted on the ocean and was conveyed
together with the riparian rights on the ocean front of block 65-A projecting between parallel lines with the respective sides of said block from the Southeasterly side of said Ocean Avenue into the Atlantic Ocean to exterior lines established by the Riparian Commissioners of the State of New Jersey in the grant to the said Wildwood Crest Company of record and the Clerk's Office of Cape May County at Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey.
Although beach erosion problems plague other shore communities and property owners, oceanfront land in Wildwood Crest
grows by a process of accretion. Within a few years after Weiner acquired her tract, the Borough's official map reflected a block 65B, consisting of lots 1 through 6 which had been produced by oceanward accretion to the Weiner tract. Beginning in 1933, the Borough began to assess block 65B.
As a result of the property owner's failure to pay taxes, tax sale certificates were issued in 1931 and 1935 and recorded in 1938 covering blocks 65A, lots 1-12 and 65B, lots 1-6. The property descriptions in both tax sale certificates omitted any express mention of riparian rights or of lands which had accreted beyond the designated parcels.
By 1935, when the tax sale certificate for block 65B issued, at least 370 feet of additional alluvion had already accreted to the tract. This alluvion was not included on the Borough's official map during the 1930's, nor was it assessed by the Borough during that period.
In 1939, judgment was entered on a bill to foreclose Weiner's right of redemption. The description in this judgment included the newly accreted lands by reference to riparian rights and the extension of lot lines "to the Exterior Line in the Atlantic Ocean established by the Riparian Commissioners of the State of New Jersey . . . ." The high water line has continuously and naturally extended farther and farther out into the Atlantic Ocean.
Plaintiff is Weiner's sole heir. He filed this action to quiet title on May 9, 1988 seeking to enforce his inherited riparian rights through a declaration that he is the owner of the alluvion beyond lots 1 through 6 of block 65B, and for related relief. The matter was tried on stipulated ...