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In re Berkeley Savings and Loan Association

Decided: June 30, 1971.

IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF BERKELEY SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE COMMISSIONER'S APPROVAL OF RELOCATION OF BERKELEY MAIN OFFICE FROM NEWARK TO MILLBURN, NEW JERSEY. INVESTORS SAVINGS & LOAN ASSOCIATION, APPELLANT,
v.
JAMES C. BRADY, JR., COMMISSIONER OF BANKING OF NEW JERSEY AND THE BERKELEY SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATION OF NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, RESPONDENTS



Kilkenny, Halpern and Lane. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kilkenny, P.J.A.D.

Kilkenny

On September 15, 1970 the State Commissioner of Banking approved a relocation of the principal office of The Berkeley Savings and Loan Association to Millburn, conditioned upon its relocation of a branch at the old site. Investors Savings and Loan Association (hereinafter "Investors") appeals from the final decision of the Commissioner.

Investors contends that (1) the procedure involved in reaching this determination constituted in fact the establishing of a branch office in Millburn which was proscribed under N.J.S.A. 17:12B-26, and (2) the application failed to meet the statutory prerequisites for principal office relocation under N.J.S.A. 17:12B-43.

The Berkeley Savings and Loan Association (hereinafter "Berkeley") was chartered in 1941 and began doing business in 1942 in the Weequahic section of Newark. Its total assets at that time were one million dollars.

In 1952 it moved its only office at that time to 88 Lyons Avenue in Newark; and in 1954 a branch office was opened by Berkeley on Chancellor Avenue, also in the Weequahic section of Newark. By 1961 the assets of Berkeley totaled $48 million and continued to increase until they amounted to $89 million at the time of this application.

With the change in the character of the Weequahic community during the 1950's and 1960's, the source of the assets began to shift from the residents of the Weequahic section to depositors from outside that area. By October 1969 less than 15% of the savings came from the area surrounding the Berkeley principal and branch offices. Many of the former customers had moved into the suburbs and numerous businesses in the area had found it economically unwise to remain.

Berkeley began to seek a suburban location. A suitable site was found in Millburn. $18 million in Berkeley's assets then flowed from the Millburn area, which contained only one other savings and loan association. It was determined by Berkeley to apply to make the Millburn site the location of its principal office. It would be advertised as such; principal officers would be transferred there; the board of directors would meet there, and orders would emanate from there. Upon approval of the relocation $9 million would be transferred to the Millburn office the first three years of operation.

However, Berkeley did not intend to abandon its Weequahic site. In 1968 it had purchased the assets of the Police Savings and Loan Association for relocation of the Lyons Avenue place of business as a branch office. In fact, the Commissioner's approval of relocation of the principal office was conditioned upon Berkeley's so doing.

Much testimony was taken concerning the feasibility of the relocation. Raymond Treasure testified on behalf of Berkeley, and submitted a feasibility report. He testified that homeownership was high in Millburn and there was a middle to upper income population. He found the primary trade area to have a 12,000 population. His report concluded that: (1) the relocation would be in the public interest; (2) it would be of benefit to the area; (3) there would be no undue injury to any existing association, and (4) the office would have a reasonable prospect of success.

Bruce Riddle testified on behalf of Investors. He concluded that Millburn had reached a saturation point as far as population growth and new home construction were concerned. He felt that the citizens of Millburn were adequately served by existing facilities.

Wilson Yulman testified for Investors as to a telephone study his corporation had conducted. This survey allegedly indicated that only a small percentage of the residents approached would be willing to ...


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