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11 N.J.A.R. 244

Market Street Mission v. Bureau of Rooming and Boarding Home Standards
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Citation: 11 N.J.A.R. 244
Decision Date: 1985
Agency: DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AFFAIRS
Synopsis: Petitioner appeals a notice of statutory violation and penalty of $3,050 resulting from respondent's inspection of its premises. The matter was transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing. Petitioner is a shelter for the indigent which is operated by a group recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt religious organization. Approximately 50 residents can be accommodated by the three-story structure. The building was inspected twice by respon- dent and several safety violations were noted under the Rooming and Boarding House Act, N.J.S.A. 55:!3B-I et seq., and regulations promulgated pursuant to the act, N.J.A.C. 5:27-1 et seq. The administrative law judge who heard the matter determined first that petitioner was a boarding house within the meaning of the Room- ing and Boarding House Act. Second, the judge rejected petitioner's argument that the Act did not apply to nonprofit, tax-exempt religious organizations. Such organizations were not expressly exempted by the law. In addition, the law does not interfere with petitioner's exercise of religion since it has a secular legislative purpose, is unrelated to the advancement or inhibition of religion and does not foster excessive governmental entanglement with religion. The statute in the instant case did not concern itself with religious freedom, but with the welfare and safety of inhabitants of rooming and boarding houses. The admin- istrative law judge did not consider the facial constitutionality of the law, saying it was beyond his jurisdiction. Petitioner argued that the penalty should be reduced because of the nature of its community service, existing safety programs and good faith. The administrative law judge denied this request, holding that the penalty was reasonable and calculated at the minimum rate. Ad- State of New Jersey 245 ministrative remedies should not be upset unless the penalties shock the conscience. In this matter, that was not the case, since serious safety violations continued unabated. Any reduction in the penalty would have to be made by the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. Upon review, this initial decision was adopted by the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. However, in light of peri- tioner's philanthropic nature, the penalty was waived provided peti- tioner within 30 days filed an application for lieensure, established a schedule to eliminate violations and proceeded diligently to abate all violations directly related to life safety. The Appellate Division, 217 N.J. Super. 56, reversed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded. Willard Bergman, Esq., for petitioner (Schenck, Price, Smith & King, attorneys) ß John J. Chernoski, Deputy Attorney General, for respondent (Irwin I. Kimmelman, Attorney General of. New Jersey, attorney)
Rule(s) Cited: 5:27-1 et seq. 
Citation Tracker modified-Dept. of Comm. Affairs; reversed -217 N.J. Super 56 (App. Div. 1987); reversed -110 N.J. 335 (1988) [Updated through 1991]