Posted by: Patricia Salkin | July 13, 2014

NJ Appeals court Finds That Maintaining A Car Collection Is Not An Incidental Use of a Residential Home

The defendant testified in municipal court that he collected cars as a hobby. He testified that he had thirty-nine cars on his property at the time of trial, and all were registered and insured. He presented documentary evidence to support his testimony. He said he drove different cars to his job as a corrections officer, and that he did not sell any cars or car parts. The municipal court found defendant guilty of failure to obtain a permit for a new or changed use of his property, a violation of Fredon Township Ordinance Section 550–12, and required him to remove all but five of these cars within thirty days.

In analyzing this claim, the court first noted that the use of residential property to maintain a car collection has been permitted as incidental to the use of the home as a residence. The court recognized that it is customary and incidental to use residential property to pursue a hobby, since use by a family of a home under our customs includes more than simple use of a house and grounds for food and shelter. It also includes its use for private religious, educational, cultural and recreational advantages of the family. Pursuit of a hobby is clearly customarily a part of recreational activities, as long as the pursuit thereof is not of such a nature, or to such an extent, as to impair the residential character of the neighborhood, it cannot be supposed a zoning ordinance was intended to prevent it. Moreover, the neighbor’s testimony showed that defendant’s use interfered with the use and enjoyment of neighbors’ properties and had a negative impact on the municipality’s land use plan. The witness testified he had to keep his windows closed because of the fumes and noise, and he could not enjoy full use of his yard. Accordingly, this court affirmed the decision of the municipal court.

State of New Jersey v Ortiz, 2014 WL 3534516 (NJ Super. Ct. 4/28/2014)

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