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Marotta v. Leone

Decided: November 14, 1979.

LIBERO D. MAROTTA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PETER A. LEONE, CITY CLERK CITY OF UNION CITY; CITY OF UNION CITY, COUNTY OF HUDSON, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, WILLIAM V. MUSTO, HARRISON C. HULTMAN, ROBERT C. BOTTI, RONALD DARIO AND ARTHUR WICHERT, DEFENDANTS



Bilder, J.s.c.

Bilder

This is an action in lieu of prerogative writs to compel the City Clerk of Union City to examine a petition protesting a bond ordinance and to certify the result of his examination as required by N.J.S.A. 40:49-27. It raises the issue, not yet explicitly passed on, as to the formal requirements of a protest against the incurring of indebtedness under that statute. In dispute is the sufficiency of plaintiff's petition.

On October 4, 1979 the Board of Commissioners of the City of Union City passed a bond ordinance entitled:

BOND ORDINANCE TO AUTHORIZE THE ACQUISITION OF CERTAIN REAL PROPERTY, STRUCTURES AND IMPROVEMENTS THEREON FOR THE PURPOSE OF ESTABLISHING MUNICIPAL OFFICES THEREIN AND OTHER PUBLIC PURPOSES RELATED THERETO, SAID PROPERTY BEING DESIGNATED AS BLOCK 123, LOTS 14-21 ON THE OFFICIAL TAX MAP OF THE CITY OF UNION CITY, IN AND FOR THE CITY OF UNION CITY, IN THE COUNTY OF HUDSON, NEW JERSEY; AND TO AUTHORIZE RENOVATIONS AND REPAIRS TO THE FIREHOUSES AT 16TH AND 29TH STREETS, AND RENOVATIONS AND REPAIRS TO CITY HALL AND ROOSEVELT STADIUM; AND TO AUTHORIZE EXPANSION OF THE AMBULANCE CORPS BUILDING AT 16TH STREET: AND TO APPROPRIATE THE SUM OF $3,200,000 TO PAY THE COST THEREOF, TO MAKE A DOWN PAYMENT AND TO AUTHORIZE THE ISSUANCE OF $3,040,000 OF BONDS TO FINANCE SUCH APPROPRIATION, AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE ISSUANCE OF BOND ANTICIPATION NOTES IN ANTICIPATION OF THE ISSUANCE OF SUCH BONDS. (hereinafter "bond ordinance")

Publication of the bond ordinance was duly made on October 9, 1979 and thereafter plaintiff and others sought to protest the ordinance as was their right under N.J.S.A. 40:49-27.

On October 19, 1979, within the time provided by law, plaintiff filed with defendant city clerk a document, consisting of 170 pages and containing 1189 signatures, purporting to be a petition protesting the bond ordinance (hereinafter "petition").

Each page of the petition was headed by a recital which read as follows:

Each of the undersigned, a taxpayer of the City of Union City, owner of real property stated opposite his or her name, does hereby join in a Petition protesting the adoption of an Ordinance by the Board of Commissioners of the City of Union City, entitled:

"BOND ORDINANCE TO AUTHORIZE THE ACQUISITION OF CERTAIN REAL PROPERTY, STRUCTURES AND IMPROVEMENTS THEREON FOR THE PURPOSE OF ESTABLISHING MUNICIPAL OFFICES THEREIN AND OTHER PUBLIC PURPOSES RELATED THERETO, SAID PROPERTY BEING DESIGNATED AS BLOCK 123, LOTS 14-12 ON THE OFFICIAL TAX MAP OF THE CITY OF UNION CITY, IN AND FOR THE CITY OF UNION CITY, IN THE COUNTY OF HUDSON, NEW JERSEY; AND TO AUTHORIZE RENOVATIONS AND REPAIRS TO THE FIREHOUSES AT 16th and 29th STREETS, AND RENOVATIONS AND REPAIRS TO CITY HALL AND ROOSEVELT STADIUM; AND TO AUTHORIZE EXPANSION OF THE AMBULANCE CORPS BUILDING AT 16th STREET: AND TO APPROPRIATE THE SUM OF $3,200,000.00 TO PAY THE COST THEREOF; TO MAKE A DOWN PAYMENT AND TO AUTHORIZE THE ISSUANCE OF BOND ANTICIPATION NOTES IN ANTICIPATION OF THE ISSUANCE OF SUCH BONDS."

There followed beneath this, spaces for ten persons to append their signatures and indicate their property. Finally, there appeared space for a certification under oath that the signer had witnessed the petition signatures. A comparison of the descriptions as contained in the bond ordinance and the petition shows that the latter contains three typographical errors: (1) the

inversion of the number 21 in the lot description in the fifth line of the bond ordinance; (2) the substitution of a semicolon for a comma after the word "thereof" in the 13th line of the bond ordinance, and (3) the omission of the phrase "$3,040,000 of bonds to finance such appropriation, and to ...


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