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County of Bergen v. Department of Public Utilities

Decided: December 2, 1971.

COUNTY OF BERGEN, A BODY POLITIC AND CORPORATE OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, APPELLANT,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC UTILITIES OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY AND WILLIAM E. OZZARD, PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSIONERS, RESPONDENTS. COUNTY OF BERGEN, A BODY POLITIC AND CORPORATE OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT, V. DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC UTILITIES OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY AND WILLIAM E. OZZARD, PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSIONERS, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



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

Lane

These appeals are before us upon leave granted in each case.

Plaintiff Bergen County appeals from a determination by the Board of Public Utility Commissioners denying its motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Defendants Department

of Public Utilities and William E. Ozzard, president of the Board of Public Utility Commissioners, appeal from a Law Division order denying a motion by the Board to dissolve temporary restraints placed on the Board of Public Utility Commissioners.

Plaintiff operates sanitary land fill disposal sites in Teaneck and Lyndhurst, both located in Bergen County. The use of the disposal sites is limited to: Bergen County municipalities, private scavengers contracted by Bergen County municipalities, private scavengers contracted by Bergen County residents, and Bergen County residents.

On January 6, 1971 the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders announced an increase in rates for the use of the County's disposal sites. On January 8, 1971 the Board of Public Utility Commissioners issued an order directing Bergen County to suspend its rate increase and to appear before the Board on January 21, 1971 to show cause why "such increase should not be permanently suspended or why said County of Bergen should not comply with the Board's Rule of Practice 14:6-16 before increased rates, for disposal of solid waste at the land fill sites in Bergen County, be permitted," and to show that the proposed increase was reasonable.

On January 21, 1971 plaintiff filed a complaint in the Law Division of the Superior Court seeking to restrain the Board from suspending the increased rates, from conducting the hearing on the reasonableness of the rates, and from ordering the County to show cause why the rates should not be permanently suspended or why the County should not comply with the Board's Rule of Practice 14:6-16 before the increase was permitted. On February 3, 1971 the Law Division issued an order temporarily restraining the suspension of the rate increase until the Board made findings of fact and conclusions of law on the jurisdictional issue and until all time for appeal had expired. Plaintiff was ordered to hold in escrow the amounts representing the increase in rates.

A hearing was held on the jurisdictional issue and on February 10, 1971 the Board denied the plaintiff's motion. On February 26, 1971 plaintiff filed a motion for leave to appeal.

Subsequent to the Board's determination, defendants moved in the Law Division to dissolve the restraints. The motion was denied on March 10, 1971. On March 10 defendants filed a motion for leave to appeal.

A

By the enactment of the Solid Waste Management Act N.J.S.A. 13:1E-1 et seq. , effective May 6, 1970; the Solid Waste Control Act, N.J.S.A. 48:13A-1 et seq. , effective November 6, 1970; the County Solid Waste Disposal Financing Law N.J.S.A. 40:66A-31.1 et seq. , effective October 28, 1970, and the Solid Waste Management Authorities Law, N.J.S.A. 40:66A-32 et seq. , effective August 16, 1968, the Legislature has set forth a comprehensive scheme for dealing with the problems of solid waste collection and disposal.

The purpose of N.J.S.A. 48:13A-1 et seq. is to provide for an efficient and reasonable solid waste collection, disposal and utilization service by vesting in the Board of Public Utility Commissioners the duty to set forth and enforce standards and rates regulating the economic aspects of such service. N.J.S.A. 48:13A-2. The Board of Public Utility Commissioners is specifically ...


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