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Bellington v. Township of East Windsor

Decided: September 29, 1954.


Eastwood, Goldmann and Schettino. The opinion of the court was delivered by Goldmann, J.A.D.


[32 NJSuper Page 245] Plaintiffs brought an action in lieu of prerogative writs to declare invalid the ordinance adopted by defendant in May 1953 to license and regulate trailer camps and camp sites within the township, as well as to declare void the first six sections of the ordinance. At the trial plaintiffs limited their attack to section 5 which prescribed the license fees, apparently abandoning all other contentions. They argued there, as here, that the license fee fixed by the ordinance for conducting a trailer camp is invalid because enacted for purposes of taxation and not regulation, and further, because it is prohibitory and confiscatory. The trial court in an oral opinion held that plaintiffs had failed to sustain the burden of establishing that the ordinance, and particularly section 5, is unreasonable and

confiscatory. Judgment was thereupon entered on the merits in favor of defendant. Plaintiffs appeal.

The ordinance was enacted in accordance with specific statutory authority, to be found in N.J.S.A. 40:52-1(d) and 40:52-2. N.J.S.A. 40:52-1 provides:

"The governing body may make, amend, repeal and enforce ordinances to license and regulate:

d. * * * trailer camps and camp sites, * * *."

The trailer camp and camp site provision was added to this subsection by L. 1948, c. 425, ยง 1. R.S. 40:52-2 declares that:

"The governing body may fix the fees for all such licenses, which may be imposed for revenue, and may prohibit all unlicensed persons and places and vehicles, businesses and occupations from acting, being used, conducted or carried on; impose penalties for violation of ordinances providing for licenses, and revoke any license for sufficient cause and after notice and hearing."

There can be no question that this ordinance was enacted for regulatory purposes as well as for revenue. It consists of 22 sections. The first and last four sections are essentially procedural and administrative in nature. Sections 6 through 18 are patently all regulatory. Briefly, they limit the number of trailers in any camp; require the camp management to maintain a sanitary water supply; prescribe certain sanitary facilities and establish a ratio of toilets to trailers; regulate dumping, garbage and ash collection, and disposal of waste water, and provide that the board of health may impose additional sanitary requirements; require adequate lighting of grounds and toilets at certain hours; establish a minimum area per trailer space and require cars and trailers to be arranged in rows; provide for the grounds being adequately drained; establish setback lines for trailers and sanitary facilities in relation to dwellings located on other premises; regulate conversion of trailers to permanent dwellings by removal of wheels and other alterations; prohibit the use of camp premises for immoral purposes; require compliance

with all police, health and fire regulations; and provide that the premises shall be subject to inspection by day or night.

Section 5, which fixes the license fees and is the only section under attack, itself contains a regulatory provision -- the requirement that the licensee maintain a camp registry setting forth certain specified information, and submit a copy thereof monthly to the township clerk, the municipal court clerk and the tax collector, respectively.

The ordinance represents a proper exercise by the township of the authority granted under the quoted statutes. Plaintiffs strongly rely upon Salomon v. Jersey City , 12 N.J. 379 (1953), as support for their argument that the ordinance is invalid because enacted for the purpose of taxation and not regulation. The ordinance before us is clearly distinguishable from that which suffered judicial condemnation in the Salomon case. The Jersey City enactment, made applicable to all businesses, contained no regulatory features whatever and was admittedly a taxing measure. Justice Jacobs, ...

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