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Kerani Enterprise, Inc. v. Plainsboro Township Planning Board

A-5752-03T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2005) (Unpublished)

ZONING; SUBDIVISIONS—Where a prior land use approval was conditioned on two lots being merged and where the merged lots could support the existing house or even a larger one, there is no hardship that could support an application to divide the lots once again and build a second house.

A subdivision applicant owned two lots “which it concede[d] [had to] be treated as one lot for land use purposes under the terms of a previous minor subdivision approval.” Its “predecessor in title bought the smaller of the two lots from a neighbor after it was subdivided from the neighbor’s lot. The subdivision was granted conditioned on the smaller lot being merged with the buyer’s existing property.” Now, the new owner of the two lots sought permission to build a house on the smaller lot. That house would not have had required frontage on a public street and would have been land-locked. The applicant proposed to build a driveway over the larger lot “to create access to the public street.” The planning board denied the applicant’s request “finding, among other reasons, that [the applicant] had not proved its claim of hardship and that creating a new house with no frontage would exacerbate the existing shortage of on-street parking.” The Appellate Division agreed. It pointed out that the applicant “knew that it was acquiring one lot, for land use purposes, when it bought the property.” Clearly, the existing combined lot was suitable for a house. The applicant “admitted that it could demolish the existing house and build a larger one.” According to the Court, a “desire to build a second house instead [did] not constitute a hardship.”

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