In this action in lieu of prerogative writs, R. 4:69-1 et seq. , the Township of Mount Olive (Mt. Olive) demands membership in the Musconetcong Sewerage Authority (MSA). The Borough of Netcong (Netcong) and the Borough of Stanhope (Stanhope) are the charter and the only member municipalities of the MSA. The MSA and Netcong oppose Mt. Olive's complaint. Construction of N.J.S.A. 40:14A-4(m)(i), a section of the Sewerage Authorities Law,*fn1 is necessary to resolve this litigation.
The MSA is a municipal corporation of New Jersey organized pursuant to the enabling statute. N.J.S.A. 40:14A-2(3) and N.J.S.A. 40:14A-4(a), (b) and (c). Created in 1967, the MSA operates a regional waste water collection and treatment system in the southeast portion of the Upper Musconetcong River drainage basin (basin). The MSA governing body is a board of six commissioners, three appointed by each member municipality.
A brief demographic and geographic description of the parties may be helpful. Mt. Olive, having an area of 31.5 square miles with a population of 18,000 and growing, is located in western Morris County. The intersection of I S 80 and Routes 46 and 206 roughly describes the northeast quadrant of Mt. Olive.
Inside this quadrant are 6.5 square miles and a population of 3,000. This is the proposed service area for which Mt. Olive seeks MSA membership. On the east, Mt. Olive adjoins Netcong, another Morris County community. Netcong has a population which has stabilized at 3,400 within its 0.80 square miles. Across the Musconetcong River, to the north of Netcong, lies Stanhope with its 3,800 residents in an area of 2.47 square miles.
The basin encompasses an area of some 64.23 square miles lying both in Morris County and Sussex County. The major water bodies and courses in the basin are the Musconetcong River, Lake Hopatcong and Lake Musconetcong. The political subdivisions within the basin and the percentage of in-basin land area compared to total municipal area are shown on this chart:
Municipality in basin in basin
Netcong 0.08 sq. miles 100%
Mt. Olive 6.50 sq. miles 21%
(Roxbury) 3.44 sq. miles 16%
Arlington 1.90 sq. miles 63%
Township of Jefferson 14.3 sq. miles 31%
Stanhope 2.47 sq. miles 100%
Borough of Hopatcong 12.26 sq. miles 100%
Township of Byram 18.06 sq. ...