Commons v. Westwood Zoning Board of Adjustment

410 A.2d 1138 (1980)

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Commons v. Westwood Zoning Board of Adjustment

New Jersey Supreme Court
410 A.2d 1138 (1980)

  • Written by Rose VanHofwegen, JD
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Facts

Gordon and Helen Commons (plaintiffs) owned a narrow, vacant residential lot with only 30 feet of frontage and 5190 square feet. The previous owners acquired the lot in 1927, before any zoning. Twenty years later, zoning set minimums at 75 feet of frontage and 7500 square feet, even though most properties in the neighborhood were smaller. In 1974, the Commonses contracted to sell the lot to their neighbor Leo Weingarten (plaintiff), conditioned on being able to build a house on it. After Weingarten tried unsuccessfully to buy another 10-foot strip from another neighbor to conform with zoning minimums, the parties requested a variance. Weingarten submitted a plan for a larger home to be scaled down to under 20 feet wide to allow the minimum five-foot side yards and still be comparably sized to 17 other neighboring homes. A realtor testified that the home would not impair neighborhood values or the zoning plan because it would be comparably priced and have sufficient setbacks, but neighbors opposed the variance. The Westwood Zoning Board of Adjustment (defendant) found no hardship and denied the variance, reasoning it would substantially impair the purpose of the zoning ordinance. The trial and appellate court affirmed, prompting a further appeal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Schreiber, J.)

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