For the prosecutor, Lloyd, Horn & Perskie (John Lloyd, Jr., of counsel).
For the respondents, William Charlton.
Before Justices Bodine and Wachenfeld.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
WACHENFELD, J. The question presented to this court by the writ of certiorari is the validity of a tax assessment on the prosecutor's property made by the respondent Egg Harbor Township on October 1st, 1943, for the taxable year 1944.
Prosecutor is an electric company owning, inter alia, a high tension line which runs across the southerly part of the state
from prosecutor's generating plant on the Delaware River at Deepwater, New Jersey, to prosecutor's plant at Atlantic City, New Jersey. The land in question is part of that upon which the high tension line stands and lies within an area in Egg Harbor Township locally described as "Pleasantville Terrace." It is a strip 200 feet wide and approximately two miles long containing fifty-five acres, and there is nothing on the land except the high tension line. A nearby swamp touches upon the strip in two places and the surface of the land is covered with scrub.
Pleasantville Terrace is an old real estate development started in 1903, at which time a map was filed, but since 1910 has been inactive. Most of the original streets have been overgrown and only a few houses exist in the whole development. The greater part of the area is ordinary woodland which has been burnt over and has upon it only scrub oaks and pine.
Prosecutor's land is crossed by roads at the east and west ends and approximately in the middle. The land was acquired and high tension lines erected thereon in 1930, and from 1935 through 1943 the respondent assessed the land as acreage at an assessed valuation of $2,500 for the whole area, which averaged $45.50 per acre, there being approximately fifty-five acres. For the year 1944 respondent township broke down the assessment into individual lots as shown on the old real estate development and increased the assessment from $2,500 to $16,600, an increase of 600 per cent., or $300 per acre. The reason given was that other lot owners in Pleasantville Terrace were assessed at $25 per lot; but such assessments, it was openly admitted, were only made against taxpaying lots while lots owned by defaulting taxpayers were assessed at a valuation of $1.
On the prosecutor's appeal the County Board reduced the total of assessments from $16,600 to $14,000 without specifying as to where or how the reduction should be applied. On prosecutor's further appeal the Division of Tax Appeals arbitrarily reduced the assessments by cutting each exactly ...