McGeehan, Jayne and Goldmann. The opinion of the court was delivered by Goldmann, J.A.D.
Plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment (R.S. 2:26-66 et seq., R.S. 2:26-69; now N.J.S. 2 A:16-50 et seq., N.J.S. 2 A:16-53) of its rights and status under the statute concerning the assessment of tangible personal property (R.S. 54:4-9, as amended L. 1942, c. 281, § 2; L. 1943, c. 120, § 2; L. 1945, c. 163, § 3), and more particularly whether the Townships of Westampton and Mount Laurel in Burlington County, New Jersey, had the right to assess and tax plaintiff's equipment and machinery for the year 1951.
The facts were not in dispute and the cause was by consent submitted to the trial court sitting without a jury. That
court determined that neither township could under the statute legally assess plaintiff's property present therein on October 1, 1950, and that only the defendant Borough of Bogota had such right, the taxable situs of the equipment and machinery on the assessing date being in that borough. Judgment was entered for the plaintiff. The defendant townships appeal.
Plaintiff is a large contracting company specializing in the construction of roads, bridges, aqueducts and similar public works. It was incorporated in the State of New Jersey in 1923 and has its principal executive and registered offices, plant, main repair shops, garage, and facilities for storing its equipment and machinery in Bogota, Bergen County, New Jersey.
Early in 1950 the New Jersey Turnpike Authority awarded three contracts to plaintiff covering section 3 of the Turnpike, extending from Allentown in Monmouth County to Woodbury in Gloucester County, a distance of 21.7 miles. These contracts were for grading, bridge work and paving, respectively. Part of section 3 runs through the Townships of Westampton and Mount Laurel, Burlington County.
The equipment necessary to carry out the Turnpike work was all mobile and ran on tires or treads. It was assembled in Bogota in February, 1950, and shipped to the job. There was a delay of two months because of difficulties encountered by the Turnpike Authority in acquiring necessary rights-of-way, as a result of which most of the equipment was moved back to Bergen County and used there until May, 1950. The equipment was then forwarded to the job site and the work began. It is stipulated that the equipment assessed by the Townships of Westampton and Mount Laurel on October 1, 1950, was physically located there for the purpose of being used on the Turnpike project, and was to remain there until the work was completed and then taken elsewhere.
The equipment and machinery were moved from place to place as the work on section 3 of the Turnpike progressed. It is uncontroverted that when plaintiff completes a contract
the equipment and machinery used are either returned to Bogota for storage or repairs or, if no repairs are necessary and there is a new job available, are transported to the new job location.
The Turnpike contracts called for completion of the job on the entire 21.7-mile length of section 3 by October 1, 1951. However, because of some delay the target ...