Susser, P.J.D.C., Temporarily Assigned.
Plaintiff seeks to restrain the Borough of Ringwood from passing an ordinance which would abolish the Ringwood Solid Waste Management Authority (Authority), and for judgment declaring the proposed ordinance invalid.
The matter was first heard on the return day of an order to show cause seeking to temporarily restrain the borough from passing the ordinance. It was subsequently heard on motion for summary judgment to declare the ordinance abolishing the Authority as illegal and of no effect.
The facts giving rise to this litigation are not in dispute.
On October 9, 1970, pursuant to the provisions of the Solid Waste Management Authority's Law (N.J.S.A. 40:66A-32 et seq.), the Borough of Ringwood by ordinance created a public body corporate under the name of Ringwood Solid Waste Management Authority. Pursuant to the provisions of the enabling act, the mayor and governing body of Ringwood appointed five persons as members of the Authority and took all other essential action required under the statute to effectively organize and create the Authority. N.J.S.A. 40:66A-35(a), (c), (d).
The Authority, after its organization, received a grant from a private corporation of approximately 200 acres of land located in the Borough of Ringwood and proceeded to conduct its business as a solid waste management authority. It has entered into an agreement with the borough to permit municipal disposal of solid waste on lands owned by the Authority; has filed applications with the various state agencies in connection with the operation and proposed operation of landfill garbage disposal sites on lands owned by the Authority; has made payments in lieu of taxes to the borough for the lands owned by it, and in connection with the conduct of its business has incurred debts and also has bills due and owing to it.
In 1973 and 1974 the borough entered into extensive negotiations with the neighboring boroughs of Kinnelon, Butler, Bloomingdale, Riverdale, Pompton Lakes and the Township of Pequannock having as its aim the creation of a regional solid waste management authority to be known as the Lakeland Regional Solid Waste Management Authority. From these negotiations an agreement emerged which provided for the formation by the concerned municipalities of a regional authority under the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:66A-32 et seq., and more specifically under the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:66A-35(b). The regional agreement provided, among other things, that the participating municipalities would enact parallel ordinances creating such regional authority.
On August 28, 1974 at a public meeting the Ringwood Borough Council introduced and passed on first reading an ordinance which would permit it to join in this pact for the purpose of conducting a regional solid waste management authority (Ordinance No. 1974-33).
N.J.S.A. 40:66A-35(e) provides
No governing body which may create or join in the creation of any solid waste management authority pursuant to this section shall thereafter create or join in the creation of any other solid waste management authority. No governing body of any municipality within a district shall create or join in the creation of any solid waste management authority except upon the written consent of the solid waste management authority and in accordance with the terms and conditions of such consent.
The term "district" referred to above is defined in the act as "the area within the territorial boundaries of the municipality or municipalities which created or joined in the creation of a solid waste management authority." Thus, by the creation of the Ringwood Solid Waste Management Authority on October 9, 1970 Ringwood had become a municipality within a waste management district and was subject to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:66A-35(e).
Because of this statutory prohibition, and since the governing body had committed itself to ...