This matter comes on by a stipulation as to facts and the filing of briefs.
On or about March 4, 1948, plaintiff applied to the defendant, as Clerk of the City of Trenton, for a license to operate a junk yard in the City of Trenton. Again in January, 1949,
plaintiff applied to the defendant for a license to conduct a junk yard at the same premises for the year, 1949.
The defendant, as Clerk of the City of Trenton, declined to issue such licenses contending that the plaintiff was not engaged in the conduct of operating a junk yard, but was engaged in the business of buying and selling scrap iron and steel and other metals, and, accordingly, was in the category as provided by the ordinance entitled, "An Ordinance governing and regulating and fixing license fees of certain businesses in the City of Trenton," adopted December 11, 1947.
The facts being stipulated, the pertinent parts are hereinafter set forth:
"Plaintiff corporation has its place of business on Muirhead Avenue, Trenton, New Jersey, which it has conducted since 1944. Plaintiff engages in the business of purchasing, processing and selling used metals of all kinds It purchases metals from sellers located both within and outside of the city. These metals are brought to the plaintiff's place of business where they are subjected to a processing procedure. The plaintiff cuts the metals, sorts them in accordance with their metallic content, treats them and in general performs all other processes necessary to place their product in form necessary for sale. To this end, it has on its premises, an open-air yard, machinery required for this function, such as: shears, acetylene and oxygen cutting equipment to burn or cut the metals, air compressors for pneumatic cutting, welders to cut both non-ferrous and ferrous metals, overhead crane with magnets to unload and load metals in cars and truck cranes. The plaintiff purchases metals in forms for which they have no further utility. This consists of old or abandoned machinery of all kinds, old automobile bodies, surplus government metallic property and ordnance equipment no longer usable and so forth. In short, the plaintiff purchases old and discarded items that have metallic salvage value and which are no longer usable in their present form. In its yard, the plaintiff processes these items, salvages the metals contained therein and places the metals in condition for resale as used metals. The plaintiff does not sell used machinery or the like for
reuse in the same state as purchased, nor does it recondition any of the items purchased for resale in their original state. The plaintiff then sells the metals thus prepared and processed to mills, which, in turn, use these metals for smelting and manufacturing of new metals and metal products. The business function of the plaintiff, broadly speaking, is to collect old metals no longer of utility in their present state, process and segregate the same, and to channel them to purchasers who use the old metals for the manufacture of new metal and metal products.
"In 1907 the City of Trenton adopted an ordinance providing that no person could operate a junk yard unless duly licensed by the City, the license fee being then prescribed as $100 per year. In 1948 the City increased the amount of the fee to $200 by the passage of an additional ordinance. The 1907 ordinance further provided that the licensee was under a duty to enter into a bond in a stipulated amount; that the licensee was authorized to keep for purchase and sale junk, rags, old rope, old iron, brass, copper, tin, lead and other metals, old bottles, or any second hand articles. It further provided that a junk yard keeper could not purchase articles from a minor, apprentice or servant, limited the hours of doing business between 7:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M., provided for the maintenance of purchase and sales records, and also provided for the right of inspection by city authorities.
"In 1947, the City adopted another ordinance, which provided that all business not specifically covered by other licensing ordinances of the City, would be under a duty to obtain a license to carry on such business. The rates for such licenses to be determined by the amount of the gross receipts of the licensee during the previous year. This ordinance likewise contained provisions as to the keeping of records as to purchases and sales. It further contained a provision that the City authorities were to have the right to inspect the premises of all licensees in order to report any violations of the City, County and ...