The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hayser
May a municipality condition the issuance of a zoning permit on the payment of delinquent real property taxes? That is the central issue presented in this matter.
The essential facts are not in dispute. Plaintiffs are residential developers in the Township of Holmdel. In or about June 1995, plaintiffs Acqua Development Corp. and RCG Development Corp. of Holmdel V, Inc., made applications to the Township's zoning officer for the issuance of zoning permits for several lots in their approved development projects. *fn1 On or about July 6, 1995, the zoning officer denied these applications due to the fact that the properties in question were burdened with delinquent real property taxes. Thereafter, plaintiffs sought relief by Order to Show Cause, which was entered on July 31, 1995, and the issue as to the denial of the zoning permits was tried on the return date, since, as a matter of law, it was ripe for Disposition at that time.
Plaintiffs state that the defendant zoning officer in denying the zoning permits in question is relying upon two municipal ordinance provisions:
First, Township Ordinance No. 90-28, which provides, in relevant part, as follows:
SECTION 1. Any applicant for the issuance or renewal of any license or permit issued by the Township of Holmdel, or requiring the approval of the Township of Holmdel, shall be required, if he, she or it is the owner thereof, to pay any delinquent property taxes or assessments on the property wherein the business or activity for which the license or permit is sought or wherein the business or activity is to be conducted.
SECTION 4. The provisions of this Ordinance shall not apply to or include any alcoholic beverage license or permit issued pursuant to the 'Alcoholic Beverage Control Act,' R.S. 33:1-1 et seq. The provisions of this Ordinance shall apply to all other permits and licenses issued by, or requiring approval of, the Township of Holmdel, including but not limited to:
1. Permits required pursuant to the Uniform Construction Code;
2. Certificates of Occupancy;
3. Soil Removal or Excavation Permits;
4. Food Establishment Licenses;
5. Water and Sewer Connection Permits;
7. Business Sale Licenses;