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Kohler v. Barnes

Decided: March 1, 1973.


Lane, J.s.c.


This action in lieu of prerogative writs contesting the appointment of William M. Patterson to the Howell Township Industrial Commission and the overall current composition of that Commission is before the Court on final hearing.

Plaintiff is a resident and taxpayer in Howell Township. Defendant Raymond Barnes is Mayor of Howell Township and has been since January 1, 1972. Defendant William M.

Patterson was Mayor of the Township from January 1 to December 31, 1970. On September 25, 1972 he was appointed to the Township's Industrial Commission by defendant Barnes.

Howell Township contains 63 square miles and has a population of approximately 23,000. Twenty percent of the Township is densely developed. There is some industry. The balance of the Township is rural.

The Township's Industrial Commission was created by an ordinance adopted on November 9, 1970 by the Township governing body, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:55B-1 et seq. The Legislature's findings and purpose in providing for such commissions are set forth in N.J.S.A. 40:55B-2.

It is hereby found and declared as follows:

a. That unless many municipalities are to accept decadence and obsolescence as their inevitable lot, they must thoroughly analyze, their position in the industrial structure of the county and then completely mobilize their potential resources for efficient manufacture; that the location of industry today is more and more the result of an impartial, scientific study of basic economic conditions; that one of the basic difficulties of many of the municipalities of this state is that they do not know themselves; that they have little appreciation of either their economic strength or their economic weakness; that they have never studied impartially, either the economic advantages or the economic disadvantages of their own peculiar geographic position; that there had been an abundance of publicity campaigns and boosting campaigns founded upon superficial generalities and not well designed to enlighten the prospective manufacturer; that a frank inventory of the industrial life of New Jersey communities as a deliberate and sober inquiry of scientific character is necessary to ascertain their real needs and to determine their potential resources for efficient manufacture with a constructive program for sustained and selective growth and a long term policy of industrial rehabilitation and development is necessary.

b. That there are now many thousands of unemployed persons within the state of New Jersey, who, if profitably employed, would create annual pay rolls of millions of dollars; that the re-employment of the present unemployed would quicken and improve social conditions.

Members of the commissions are described in N.J.S.A. 40:55B-5, which states in pertinent part:

The members of each commission shall be appointed by the mayor of the municipality of its creation. Each member shall be, for the last five years preceding his appointment, a citizen of the United States and a qualified voter of the state of New Jersey. * * *

Each member shall be chosen with a special view to his qualifications and fitness for service on the commission. He shall have had experience in industry or commerce and shall be conversant with the industrial needs and facilities of his commission's municipality, and shall be of known devotion to public service.

There shall be appointed upon said commission, unless local conditions shall otherwise require, at least one thoroughly competent representative of mill owners and operators of mill properties; a representative of labor; a representative of the clearing house or banks of said municipality; a representative of the chamber of commerce; a representative of the service clubs of such municipality; a representative of the legal profession; and a representative of a recognized real estate dealer's association.

N.J.S.A. 40:55B-8 sets forth the purposes, functions, and powers (in addition to the general powers, N.J.S.A. 40:55B-7) of these commissions:

Every commission created under this chapter shall constitute the corporate instrumentality of the municipality, by which it is created, for the following purposes:

a. To inquire into, survey and publicize the extent, advantages and utility of the vacant lands of such municipality, whether municipally owned or otherwise.

b. To classify such vacant lands according to their adaptability for the settlement thereon of various types of industrial enterprises.

c. To study and analyze the various industries of the nation and, to the extent it deems necessary for its purposes, the industries of other nations, with a view to ascertaining the opportunities for the industrial expansion of the municipality. In this connection the reports, records, statistics, compenda and similar documents of existing federal, state, county, municipal and other governmental and public agencies, as well as of responsible private institutions, boards, agencies and similar bodies interested in the compilation of the information relating to industry, shall be resorted to, wherever possible, in order to avoid unnecessary original research and gathering of source material.

d. To advertise the industrial advantages and opportunities of its municipality and the availability of real estate within the municipality for industrial settlement and to encourage and accomplish such industrial settlement within the municipality.

e. To solicit the several industries to purchase or lease the vacant lands and property of or in the municipality.

f. To accomplish the sale or lease of the municipality's vacant lands to industries whose settlement thereon is best calculated, in the judgment of the commission, to advance the interests of ...

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