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Chang v. Board of Adjustment of the Borough of Roseland

A-5248-07T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2009) (Unpublished)

ZONING; USE VARIANCE — When an applicant seeks a use variance for a particular store location, the use must be found to be uniquely suitable for that location and the close proximity of similar retail stores can indicate that there is no special reason to add another such store to the area.

A tenant leased a portion of a parcel on which a small single-story building was situated. It applied for a use variance to operate a nail salon. The property was situated in a residential zone. It was impossible for the property to be used for any of the purposes permitted in the zone. It was located, however, across the street from a business zone. There were two other nail salons within 300 yards of the subject property. The board denied the application, finding that the tenant failed to establish that the proposed use would serve the general welfare. It also held that the applicant failed to show why this location was more suitable for a nail salon than any other location where such use was widely permitted. The tenant sued, seeking to overturn the board’s decision.

The Law Division affirmed the board’s decision, holding that the record supported the board’s determination that the applicant failed to satisfy its burden of establishing the suitability of the property for use as a nail salon. In addition, it noted that the applicant: (a) did not show that the proposed use was lacking in the community; and (b) failed to satisfy the statutory requirement of “special reasons.” The applicant appealed.

The Appellate Division affirmed, holding the lower court’s ruling was not arbitrary or unreasonable. It also held that the board’s decision was presumed valid, and could only be overturned if its decision was unsupported by the record or if its decision constituted an abuse of discretion. Here, the Court found that the proposed use as a nail salon was not inherently beneficial. Further, it ruled that where an applicant seeks a use variance for a particular store location, the use must be found to be uniquely suitable for that location. Here, the close proximity of two other nail salons indicated that there was no special reason to add another such salon to the area. Thus, the Court concluded that the record supported the board’s decision to deny the variance.


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