On appeal from municipal assessments.
[23 NJSuper Page 155] This is an appeal by property holders in the Township of Maplewood to a Superior Court judge sitting in lieu of a Circuit Court judge, from the confirmation of an assessment for peculiar benefits, confirmed by the governing body of the township pursuant to the provisions of R.S. 40:56-54. That statutory provision provides
that the court shall have the power to prescribe rules to regulate the practice in the taking and conduct of such appeals and the hearing thereof, and pursuant to that provision, an order has been entered, providing for the manner of hearing, which is by the court on testimony which has been taken, the pleadings, exhibits and the interrogatories. The duty of the court on an appeal of this kind is to determine if the assessments in question are just and fair assessments or awards and, if not, to make an order correcting the same, or if the assessments are sustained, so to order.
The assessment which is appealed from is for benefits accruing from a local improvement involving the enlargement of an existing outlet for a storm water system in the Township of Maplewood.
Written interrogatories and supplemental interrogatories have been served by the appellants and answered by the respondent Township of Maplewood. The appellants also took oral depositions on July 31, 1952, August 7, 1952 and September 4, 1952, the evidence before the court in determining this appeal consisting of written interrogatories and answers thereto, supplemental interrogatories and answers thereto, the exhibits attached to the answers to interrogatories, and exhibits introduced at the taking of the depositions. There is also in evidence a copy of the determination and order made on November 28, 1932 in the case of Township of Maplewood v. Smith , reported in 112 N.J.L. 233 (E. & A. 1934), and a copy of the ordinance adopted November 15, 1929, involved in that case, providing for an improvement in reference to the same drain that is involved in this case. The drain there involved commences where the enlarged drain involved in this case terminates.
The present improvement was undertaken pursuant to an ordinance of the Township of Maplewood, adopted June 15, 1943, and this ordinance was subsequently amended on April 17, 1951 by exscinding therefrom the authorization for the construction of certain laterals provided for in the original ordinance. The improvement consists of three parts
and the assessments are based on costs of two parts of the new construction. The parts of the construction from which the assessments are made will be referred to as Parts I and II and are as follows:
I. The replacement of a pipe 66 inches in diameter by the construction of a reinforced concrete box culvert, 8 feet wide and 6 feet 6 inches high, from a point on the northeasterly side of Jefferson Avenue, upstream in a northerly direction through an easement over private properties to the center line of Hoffman Street.
II. The replacement of a concrete pipe 33 inches in diameter by a reinforced concrete pipe 48 inches in diameter from the termination of Section I of the improvement, in Hoffman Street upgrade northwesterly to its intersection with Headley Place and the replacement of a concrete pipe 33 inches in diameter by a reinforced concrete pipe 42 inches in diameter from the termination of the 48-inch pipe at the intersection of Headley Place and Hoffman Street, northeasterly in Headley Place to its intersection with Arcularius Terrace.
The exhibit A-1, which is in evidence, is the "Assessment Map For The Improvement Of Crooked Brook Drainage System (Kendal Avenue Drainage -- Sections I & II)" dated October 5, 1950, as amended April 10, 1952. By the amendment of April 10, 1952, there has been indicated on the properties shown on the map the properties owned by the appellants by a diagonal line from one side of the front across to one side of the rear. Horizontal lines on these properties across the middle indicate properties which were assessed for tapping benefits, and vertical lines from front to back of the properties indicate properties assessed for diversion of drainage.
Section I of the improvement is shown on this exhibit A-1, and consists of an enlargement of the capacity of the main outlet of the entire drainage system in the drainage area here involved.
Section II of the improvement consists of an enlargement of the capacity of an outlet for a subsidiary drainage system of laterals extending up Hoffman Street to Ridgewood and Collingwood Roads, up Arcularius Terrace to Ridgewood Road, up De Hart Road to Ridgewood and New England
Roads, thence to Colonial and Sunset Terraces and Evergreen Place.
Section I of this improvement commences at the northeasterly side of Jefferson Avenue and at the start runs in a northeasterly direction, and the improvement at this point is the enlargement of the outlet by the replacement of a 66-inch pipe with a reinforced concrete box culvert 8 feet wide and 6 feet 6 inches high, the original pipe having replaced the bed of Crooked Brook, and continues to Hoffman Street. The water from the drainage area involved, which flows through this improvement in a southerly direction, flows through a stream called Crooked Brook along a course shown on exhibit A-4. Except for a culvert under Durand Road, the brook flows in the open downstream to a point near the northeasterly side of Woodland Road, where it enters a box culvert which continues under Woodland Road, Maplewood Avenue, the Lackawanna Railroad and Dunnell Road. The brook is open from that point to its outlet in the West Branch of the Rahway River at the lowest point of the valley. Crooked Brook from the ...