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Borough of Somerdale v. Michael T. Rigolizzo

March 7, 2011

BOROUGH OF SOMERDALE, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
MICHAEL T. RIGOLIZZO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Municipal Appeal No. 51-08.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted January 4, 2011

Before Judges Baxter and Koblitz.

Defendant Michael T. Rigolizzo appeals his sentence and argues that some of his fifty-four violations of the Somerdale Property Maintenance Code, § 197-1 to -27 (Somerdale Code), should merge. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm.

Between May 17, 2007, and September 5, 2007, the Borough of Somerdale (Borough) issued summonses to defendant for violations of two provisions of the Somerdale Code. The provisions in question state:

(2) It shall be the duty of the owner or operator to keep the premises free of hazards, which include but are not limited to the enumerations and provisions in the following subsections.

(j) Appearance of exterior of premises and structures. The exterior of the premises, the exterior of structures and the condition of accessory structures shall be maintained so that the appearance of the premises and all buildings thereon shall reflect a level of maintenance in keeping with the standards of that particular area and such that the appearance of the premises and structures shall not constitute a depressing factor for adjoining property owners nor an element leading to the progressive deterioration and downgrading of the particular area with the accompanying diminution of property values.

(l) Landscaping. The landscaping of premises shall be maintained in an orderly state with lawns and bushes trimmed and free from becoming overgrown, littered and unsightly where such would constitute a blighting effect depreciating any adjoining and nearby property. Open areas shall be graded evenly to eliminate holes, depressions, gullies, mounds, accumulations of debris or other unsightly or unsafe conditions.

[Borough of Somerdale, N.J., Prop. Maint.

Code, § 197-9 (A)(2).]

The municipal court found defendant guilty of fifty-four violations, imposing a fine of $250 and court costs of $33 on each violation for a total of $15,282. The penalty on such violations ranges from $100 to $1000 per violation. Pursuant to Rule 3:24-1, defendant appealed to the Law Division. The Law Division judge on his de novo review found defendant guilty of the same violations as the municipal court, but imposed only a $150 fine for each violation of Somerdale Code § 197-9

(A)(2)(l), (Section L), which governs landscaping, and $200 for each violation of Somerdale Code ยง 197-9 (A)(2)(j), (Section J), which governs the exterior of premises, for a total of $9900 plus costs. Defendant was found guilty of simultaneously being in violation of Section L and Section J of the Somerdale Code eighteen times. He was also found guilty of an additional eighteen Section J ...


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