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Airwick Industries Inc. v. Carlstadt Sewerage Authority

Decided: October 26, 1970.

AIRWICK INDUSTRIES, INC., ET ALS., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, CROSS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
CARLSTADT SEWERAGE AUTHORITY, ET ALS., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS, CROSS-APPELLANTS



For modification -- Chief Justice Weintraub and Justices Jacobs, Francis, Proctor, Hall, Schettino and Haneman. Opposed -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Haneman, J.

Haneman

This appeal concerns the extent of the area of the Borough of Carlstadt (Carlstadt) over which the Carlstadt Sewerage Authority (Authority), created under N.J.S.A. 40:14A-1 et seq., has jurisdiction and the legality of the sewerage rates set by said Authority.

In 1938 Carlstadt by contract with Rutherford and East Rutherford created a "Joint Meeting," "for the purpose of collecting and treating the sewage from the western section of the three Boroughs." See N.J.S.A. 40:63-68 et seq. The Joint Meeting constructed a sewage treatment plant between the years 1939 and 1941. The users of the sewer service are not directly charged for such service, the cost of operation, maintenance, etc., being distributed among the three municipalities. The proportionate share of Carlstadt is absorbed by revenues raised by general taxation.

The eastern section of Carlstadt is largely "meadowland," which for years remained undeveloped and unsewered. Due to recent rapid development, largely industrial and commercial, it became apparent that some general system of sewage disposal was required to avoid the imminent danger of water pollution. Accordingly, Carlstadt obtained field investigations and studies from a firm of consulting engineers. As a result, Carlstadt determined that the method of sewage disposal in that section was inadequate. It also concluded that sufficient addition to its present system or

construction of a new system would create an almost insuperable municipal financial problem. The Borough, therefore, created the Carlstadt Sewerage Authority. See N.J.S.A. 40:14A-1 et seq. On July 1, 1967, Carlstadt entered into a service agreement with the Authority. In this contract the word "district" is defined, using the language of N.J.S.A. 40:14A-3, as "the area within the boundaries of the Borough." However, the system which the Authority was to finance and construct was referred to in the contract as "for the use of the residents and inhabitants of a portion of the Borough and for the collection and disposal of certain sanitary sewage and other wastes arising within a portion of said District." (Emphasis supplied)

The planned system includes the construction of collection sewers, pumping stations and force mains to connect with the sewerage system of the Bergen County Sewer Authority which ultimately treats the sewage in its treatment plant in Little Ferry. The scheme for establishment of the sewage collection system by the Authority contemplates construction in two stages to serve approximately 650 acres of the Borough. Stage I is designed to serve approximately 200 acres, containing some 55 industries at its inception, but to ultimately serve 90 industries. Stage II will serve approximately 450 additional acres, with 63 industries to be served initially and 220 industries ultimately.

The system was constructed with funds obtained from the proceeds of a bond issue of the Authority in the amount of $5,800,000. The construction of the system was completed and allegedly available in Stage I on November 1, 1968.

On July 27, 1967, the Authority adopted a "Schedule of Sewer Service Charges" which schedule was revised on April 11, 1968 to provide the following charges:

SCHEDULE OF SERVICE CHARGES

Nature of Charge Industrial-Commercial

Connection Fee $1500.00 if connected within one year from the

date of availability of said sewerage system to

the premises; $3000.00 if connected within the

second year of the date of notification of avail-

ability; $4500.00 if connected within the third

year of the date of notification of avail-

ability; $5,000.00 if connected any time after

the third year of notification of availability of

said sewer.

Residential

$150.00 if connected within one year from the

date of availability of said sewerage system to the

premises; $300.00 if connected within the second

year of the date of notification of availability;

$450.00 if connected within the third year of

the date of notification of availability; $500.00

if connected any time after the third year of

notification of availability of said sewer.

Capacity Charge: Industrial-Commercial

(Per Annum) & ...


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