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Haines v. Mount Laurel Township Zoning Board of Adjustment

A-5469-02T5 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2004) (Unpublished)

ZONING; AGE-RESTRICTED HOUSING—Labeling a residential development as senior citizen housing doesn’t by itself make a senior citizen housing community or prove that it is an inherently beneficial use.

A parcel of land consisted of 5.74 acres with a 200 year-old historic home. The home was in an R-1 district. The remainder of the property was in a PUD district, calling for commercial and office buildings. The owner applied for a variance that would preserve the historic residence on 1.74 acres of the property, but would allow the building of twelve duplexes of age-restricted housing on the rest of the property. The board rejected the proposal because the density was too high and because the use was not inherently beneficial in that it did not comply with the municipality’s Planned Adult Retirement Community (PARC) standards.

The lower court affirmed the board’s decision, holding that attaching an age-restricted label on the duplexes did not automatically make the proposal a senior-citizen housing community or an inherently beneficial use. It noted that the proposed development was not designed to provide for the essential nutritional, physical and social needs of senior citizens.

On appeal, the Appellate Division pointed out that the municipality had already established the PARC zone, providing for true senior citizen communities pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:55D-65g. The PARC standards require a minimum of fifty acres and a minimum of 200 units with amenities to provide for the nutritional, physical and social needs of senior citizens. Thus, the Court agreed with the municipality’s contention that it had already made adequate provisions in its master plan and zoning ordinance for senior citizen housing. Therefore, the Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s decision that upheld the board’s rejection of the proposed variance.

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