January 23, 1996
DORCHESTER MANOR, A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT/CROSS-RESPONDENT,
BOROUGH OF NEW MILFORD, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT/CROSS-APPELLANT.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County.
Approved for Publication January 23, 1996.
Before Judges Dreier and A.m. Stein. The opinion of the court was delivered by A.m. Stein, J.A.D.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stein
The opinion of the court was delivered by A.M. STEIN, J.A.D.
The judgment of the Law Division is affirmed substantially for the reasons set forth by Judge Kole in Dorchester Manor v. Borough of New Milford, N.J. Super. (Law Div. 1995). Judge Kole balanced the critical factors of the Borough's budgetary constraints, the financial effect upon plaintiff and the effective date of the statute authorizing reimbursement to property owners who do not receive municipal service for garbage collection, N.J.S.A. 40:66-1(b), L. 1991, c. 13, § 1, eff. July 23, 1991, and determined that fundamental fairness requires the Borough of New Milford to reimburse plaintiff apartment complex owner for the cost of garbage collection and disposal fees beginning with June 1992. Id. at (slip op. at 12-13). The concept of fundamental fairness is most appropriate to establish a commencement date for reimbursement.
New Jersey's doctrine of fundamental fairness "serves to protect citizens generally against unjust and arbitrary governmental action, and specifically against governmental procedures that tend to operate arbitrarily. [It] serves, depending on the context, as an augmentation of existing constitutional protections or as an independent source of protection against state action." . . . This unique doctrine is not appropriately applied in every case but only in those instances where the interests involved are especially compelling. "Fundamental fairness is a doctrine to be sparingly applied. It is appropriately applied in those rare cases where not to do so will subject [a party] to oppression, harassment, or egregious deprivation."
[ Doe v. Poritz, 142 N.J. 1, 108, 662 A.2d 367 (1995) (citations omitted).]