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City of Jersey City v. State Department of Taxation and Finance

Decided: January 6, 1948.

CITY OF JERSEY CITY, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PROSECUTOR,
v.
STATE DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION AND FINANCE, DIVISION OF TAX APPEALS, SHELTON PITNEY AND WALTER P. GARDNER, TRUSTEES OF THE PROPERTY OF THE CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY OF NEW JERSEY, AND HOMER C. ZINK, DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION AND FINANCE, RESPONDENTS; SHELTON PITNEY AND WALTER P. GARDNER, TRUSTEES OF THE PROPERTY OF THE CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY OF NEW JERSEY, PROSECUTORS, V. CITY OF JERSEY CITY, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, STATE DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION AND FINANCE, DIVISION OF TAX APPEALS, AND HOMER C. ZINK, DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION AND FINANCE, RESPONDENTS



On certiorari.

For Jersey City, Charles A. Rooney (John J. Meehan, of counsel).

For Shelton Pitney and Walter P. Gardner, trustees of the Central Railroad Company of New Jersey, Nugent & Rollenhagen and William F. Hanlon (John P. Nugent, of counsel).

Before Justices Bodine, Wachenfeld and Burling.

Wachenfeld

The opinion of the court was delivered by

WACHENFELD, J. This is a tax assessment case involving three separate lots in the Jersey City terminal of the Central Railroad Company of New Jersey designated by the city as 22

J North (Block 2154), 48 F (Block 2145) and 49 C (Block 2145). The assessments of the first two properties are for the years 1936 through 1941 and of the third, for 1937 through 1941. The County Board affirmed the city's assessments but the State Division of Tax Appeals made reductions. Both the city and the railroad obtained separate writs of certiorari, which have been consolidated. The State of New Jersey has neither appeared nor filed a brief in these proceedings.

Lot 22 J North lies back of Ellis Island in the Jersey City terminal yard of the railroad, with a frontage on the Hudson River. It consists of 91.219 acres, of which approximately 25 acres are under water. It has a uniform width of 1,107 feet. The upland portion, filled and bulkheaded, is vacant except for stock pens, railroad coal storage dumps and a few railroad tracks, which serve the bulkhead. A small pier is used to load livestock on lighters, while empty coal barges are anchored in the basin for loading at the coal pier on the adjoining property. The waterfront is not safe for the accommodation of ocean-going vessels due to a rock ridge in the channel approach while the only land approach is by way of a private dirt road which crosses the terminal yard tracks of the railroad.

Lot 48 F is also waterfront property located in the Jersey City terminal yard of the railroad and lies about 1,500 feet north of Lot 22 J North. It contains 20.95 acres, of which approximately 14 acres are under water. The portion under water is 300 feet wide, supporting a long, old wooden coal pier. The upland tapers to a point and is completely covered and surrounded by yard tracks. The lot has direct access to the main channel of the Hudson River but there is no access from the land side except over the railroad tracks. For many years this property was leased to a coal company and for 1936 to 1940, when the lease terminated, the rental was $13,000 per year.

Lot 49 C is located near the railroad passenger station on Johnston Drive, a private roadway in the railroad yards. It comprises 2.617 acres and has a frontage on the paved drive of over 1,000 feet and a uniform depth of 100. It has no

waterfront. The land is occupied as a coal yard with a trestle and concrete coal pockets. There are several structures on the lot, including a two-story brick office building. The land was leased to Burns Brothers for many years, until 1940, at $20,000 a year. ...


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