On appeal from Superior Court, Law Division, Passaic County.
Michels, Kole and Ard. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kole, J.A.D.
[178 NJSuper Page 197] Defendants, City of Paterson and a joint venture (P-M) consisting of James Petrozello Co., Inc. and Maplewood Disposal Co. appeal from a grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs Impac, Inc. and several resident taxpayers of Paterson. The trial judge granted the relief sought by plaintiffs by setting aside the city's award of a refuse collection and disposal contract to P-M on the ground that there were certain deficiencies in the bidding procedure and the bid submitted by P-M,*fn1 and directed the city to readvertise for contract proposals within 30 days of December 10, 1980 and award a contract, the performance of which was to commence within 60 days of that date. It was further ordered that pending the award of a new contract, P-M was to continue to provide refuse collection and
disposal service. The judge later complied with the city's request for an extension of the deadline for awarding a new contract by entering an order requiring performance to begin on March 1, 1981. We granted defendants' motion for a stay of judgment pending appeal. We hereby consolidate the appeals of the city and P-M.
On May 2, 1980 the city published an advertisement entitled "Notice to Bidders" in the Paterson News. The same advertisement was placed in The Record on May 5. It gave notice that bids would be received in the office of the city business administrator at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 23, for "refuse collection and disposal service within the boundaries of the city." The contract for such service would run from July 1, 1980 to June 30, 1983. Among other things, the notice provided that bidders were required to comply with the affirmative action requirements of L. 1975, c. 127, and with the bid specifications. The city reserved the right to waive "informalities and make such awards or take action as may be in the best interest of the City."
Under the section of the "detailed bidding specifications" entitled "Disposal" it was provided that the method of disposal was left to the discretion of the contractor. This was made subject to several conditions, one of which reads:
5. At the present time the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission (HMDC) has allocated certain existing landfills within the Meadowlands District to accommodate solid waste by County. All Passaic County Solid Waste has been assigned to the P & M Landfill, Belleville Turnpike, North Arlington, N.J. as of April 15, 1980. The dumping rate at this landfill is established at $3.69 per ton.
On or about May 22 the city was informed that the dumping rate listed in the specifications ($3.69 per ton) was incorrect and, although it concluded that this rate was in fact incorrect, it was unable to determine the exact rate. Considering the matter to be "significant enough that it might be misleading to someone who would rely on it," the city's business administrator decided to put out an addendum to the specifications. On the morning of May 23, before the bids were due, the city sent telegrams concerning the change to the contractors who had picked up bid
specifications. The addendum gave a "Notice to Bidders" changing the original date for receiving bids from May 23, 1980 to June 3, 1980 and stating that the provision of the foregoing paragraph 5 to the effect that the "dumping rate at this landfill is established at $3.69 per ton" was deleted and that paragraph 5 should read as follows:
At the present time the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission (HMDC) has allocated certain existing landfills within the Meadowlands District to accommodate solid waste by county. All Passaic County Solid Waste has been assigned to the P & M Landfill, Belleville Turnpike, North Arlington, N.J. as of April 15, 1980.
The dumping rate at this landfill is to be determined by the bidder and the rate is to accompany the bid.
On May 28 this addendum was published in an advertisement in the Paterson News. No additional bidders picked up the specifications ...