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Township of White v. Castle Ridge Development Corporation

March 11, 2011

TOWNSHIP OF WHITE, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CASTLE RIDGE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, A/K/A CASTLE RIDGE IN THE HIGHLANDS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Warren County, Docket No. L-171-09.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Parrillo, P.J.A.D.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION

Submitted February 15, 2011

Before Judges Parrillo, Yannotti and Skillman.

The opinion of the court was delivered by PARRILLO, P.J.A.D.

Defendant Castle Ridge Development Corporation (Castle Ridge) appeals from the grant of summary judgment to plaintiff Township of White (Township), requiring defendant to reimburse the Township for the costs of its winter maintenance services on defendant's roadway to date; to provide winter maintenance until such time as the road is dedicated and accepted by the Township; and to pay the Township's reasonable costs and attorney's fees in this matter. We affirm.

The facts are undisputed. Castle Ridge is the owner-developer of about forty-seven acres of land located in the Township. On May 8, 2001, the Township's Planning Board (Board) adopted a resolution granting Castle Ridge preliminary major subdivision approval to create fifteen lots on this property. As part of this approval, Castle Ridge agreed to construct single family homes on each lot in conformity with the Township's zoning restrictions. This resolution further provided that:

The approval of this plan shall in no way be construed as acceptance of any street, drainage system or other improvement required by this Board, nor shall such approval obligate the Township in any way to maintain or exercise jurisdiction over such street, drainage system or other improvement, prior to acceptance of the improvement by the governing body.

On September 14, 2004, the Board adopted a resolution granting Castle Ridge final subdivision approval. As part of this approval, the Township and Castle Ridge agreed to execute a developer's agreement, which the parties accomplished on April 7, 2005.

Most pertinent for present purposes, the developer's agreement provided in section 1.1 that Castle Ridge is to be bound by both the preliminary resolution of May 8, 2001 and the final resolution of September 14, 2004. In fact, the agreement specifically incorporated the language of the May 8, 2001 resolution. The agreement also provided in section 2.1 that each house would face a central road to be constructed by Castle Ridge at its own expense, to be designated Lisa Court, which would intersect County Route 623 on one side and end in a culde-sac on the other.

Under sections 4.5, 5.4, and 8.1 of the agreement, Castle Ridge is obligated to maintain and repair the roadway and storm drain facilities it installed. Section 4.5 provides for a two-year guarantee, from the date of completion, for maintenance of all Township-owned property. Section 5.4 states that all of Castle Ridge's maintenance obligations are covenants running with the land, and provides the Township with the ability to recover legal fees in any action to enforce the maintenance provision. Most significant, section 8.1 states:

Maintenance and Repair After Construction. The Township shall have the right, but not any obligation, of maintenance and inspection of storm drainage facilities and the roadway which constitutes a part of the improvements to be completed by the Developer [Castle Ridge] as defined in this Agreement: If the Developer or owner neglect to make repairs within a reasonable time period, the Township shall have the ...


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