Friday, November 29, 2013

Town of Belleville v. Parrillo’s, Inc. case brief

Town of Belleville v. Parrillo’s, Inc. case brief summary
416 A.2d 388 (N.J. 1980)

Plaintiff city sought certified review of a decision from the Superior Court, Appellate Division (New Jersey), reversing defendant business owner's quasi-criminal conviction for violating plaintiff's zoning ordinance by extending a preexisting non-conforming use of defendant's property without first obtaining the approval of plaintiff's board of adjustment.

Plaintiff city challenged the appeals court's reversal of defendant business owner's conviction for violating plaintiff's zoning ordinance. For many years, defendant had operated a restaurant in a residential zone as a preexisting non-conforming use under plaintiff's zoning ordinance. Without seeking plaintiff's approval, defendant began operating a discotheque on the premises. In a quasi-criminal proceeding, the trial court convicted defendant of unlawfully extending the non-conforming use without prior approval; however, the appeals court reversed defendant's conviction.


  • Upon certified review, the court held that the trial court erred in applying a quantitative rather than qualitative analysis in evaluating the change in the character of defendant's business. 
  • Defendant's conversion of his business from a family restaurant to a disco with a disc jockey and several bars represented a substantial, and, therefore, impermissible, change in use. 
  • The court reversed and remanded for an entry of conviction.

The court reversed the appeals court's decision reversing defendant business owner's conviction for violating plaintiff city's zoning ordinance because defendant's conversion of a family restaurant that had operated for years as a non-conforming preexisting use in a residential area into a discotheque represented a substantial change in the business's character and required prior zoning approval.

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