The within action is a complaint in lieu of prerogative writs. The court presently has before it cross-motions for summary judgment which will be dispositive of the entire controversy.
Plaintiff alleges substantially that the County Transportation Authorities Act (L. 1980, c. 44; N.J.S.A. 40: 35B-1 et seq.) is unconstitutional as special legislation adopted in contravention of the requirements of N.J. Const. (1947), Art. IV, § VII, pars. 8, 9 and 10, and N.J.S.A. 1:6-10. As the result of that claim plaintiff avers that Atlantic County, New Jersey Ordinance 11-1980 (July 9, 1980), which purports to establish the Atlantic County Transportation Authority, is void and ultra vires; similarly, plaintiff avers that the provision of L. 1980, c. 44, § 6(b), mandating the dissolution of any municipal parking authority previously created within an enacting county, is ultra vires and void. As to the latter claim, plaintiff contends that the challenged statute herein constitutes an unlawful attempt to regulate the internal affairs of a municipality. By way of amended complaint plaintiff further claims that the County Transportation Authorities Act includes two objects in its provisions and is thereby violative of N.J. Const. (1947), Art. IV, § VII, par. 4.
The original plaintiff herein was The Parking Authority of the City of Atlantic City, which was created by Atlantic County, New Jersey Ordinance 19-1966 (August 4, 1966), and pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40:11A-1 et seq.*fn1 Defendants Atlantic County and the Atlantic County Board of Freeholders filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, pursuant to R. 4:6-2(e).
Since it is well-established that "[l]ocal government has the right to seek or to oppose legislation affecting its interest," it logically follows that plaintiff herein has standing to maintain the present litigation. See Reilly v. Ozzard , 33 N.J. 529, 544 (1960); but cf. Durgin v. Brown , 37 N.J. 189, 204 (1962) (a municipal body may not expend public funds for the purpose of supporting factional controversies; said activities must comport with general notions of the public interest). Further, in light of the briefs and arguments of counsel, which are outside the scope of the pleadings, the court has elected to treat defendants' motion as one for summary judgment. R. 4:6-2.
Since the challenge to the contested statute herein is founded largely on plaintiff's allegation that the statute constitutes special legislation, a comprehensive review of the pertinent provisions of L. 1980, c. 44, the County Transportation Authorities Act (hereinafter "the act"), is appropriate at this juncture. L. 1980, c. 44, § 2, expressly incorporates the legislative findings
and declaration of purpose with respect to the act and provides in pertinent part as follows:
The Legislature finds and declares that as a result of the "Casino Control Act" (P.L. 1977, c. 110; C. 512-1 et seq.) and the introduction and development of legalized casino gaming in Atlantic City, intense demands have been placed upon the citizens of the Atlantic County region for the development and provision of integrated and adequate transportation systems. The Legislature finds that the orderly planning, development, construction, acquisition, financing and operation of modern transportation systems on a countywide basis in that region will benefit residents of, and visitors to, this State, promote the economic vitality of the region and the State, avoid the evils of haphazard growth and land-use development, and advance the efficient use of energy and other resources. The Legislature further finds that the present and future need for regional planning and development of transportation systems in Atlantic County is a wholly exceptional situation, no parallel to which exists, or is likely to exist in the near future, anywhere in the State.
The Legislature, therefore, declares that it is in the public interest of the citizens of this State to foster and promote by all reasonable means the provision of modern transportation and parking facilities in the Atlantic County region, and that the best means to accomplish this purpose is to authorize the creation of an appropriate regionally oriented instrumentality in the county which will permit the most direct and immediate attention to the particular transportation needs of the Atlantic County region, consistent with the need for, and procedures and structures established with respect to, efficient and convenient statewide transportation systems.
Section 13 of the act contains an elaboration of a county transportation authority's role, as follows:
The purpose of a county transportation authority shall be the improvement, establishment and development of parking and transportation facilities by or through the planning, design, acquisition, construction, improvement, maintenance or operation of any and all projects and facilities for the improvement and development of a modern, efficient and integrated transportation system, or directly related thereto, either directly or by agreement with any county, municipality or person, or in any other manner, which in the judgment of the authority will provide an effective and satisfactory method for promoting its purposes.
In light of the legislative findings as set forth hereinabove, § 4 of the act provides that the "governing body of any county in which is located a municipality in which casino gaming is authorized" may adopt an ordinance or resolution creating a county transportation authority which will be a "public body corporate and politic" and "an instrumentality of the county. . . ." Section 6(a) of the act provides that upon its creation a
county transportation authority shall have preemptive jurisdiction with respect to public transportation matters and shall be the exclusive instrumentality with responsibility for those services.*fn2 Significant for the purposes of the present litigation are those provisions contained in § 6(b) of the act which mandate that upon creation of a county transportation authority any municipality having previously created a parking authority shall forthwith provide for its dissolution.*fn3
The Act provides that the powers of a county transportation authority shall be vested in its membership. L. 1980, c. 44, § 8(a). The membership of a county transportation authority shall be composed of seven members, as follows: (1) one member shall be a representative of the county government, (2) one shall be the Commissioner of the (New Jersey) Department of Transportation ex officio and (3) five shall be residents of the enacting county. (Parenthetical supplied.) P. 1980, c. 44, § 4(b). Section 8(b) of the act provides that the minutes of every
meeting of a county transportation authority shall be subject to the item veto of the chief executive ...