On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Essex County, Docket No. F-5980-77.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Sabatino and Simonelli.
Defendants Irwin and Ida Mae Crawford (the Crawfords) appeal from the April 4, 2008 Chancery Division order denying their motion to vacate a default judgment entered on September 18, 1978 in an in rem tax foreclosure action brought by plaintiff City of Newark (City). The Crawfords contend that the motion judge abused her discretion in denying the motion. We affirm.
The following facts are summarized from the record. On May 24, 1960, the Crawfords purchased two adjoining lots in Newark:
Block No. 2619, Lot 37 (known as 49 Woodland Avenue) and Block No. 2619, Lot 36 (known as 51 Woodland Avenue). Lot 36 is an undeveloped lot containing a concrete walk and an underground oil tank. It is adjoined by Lot 34 (known as 53 Woodland Avenue), another undeveloped lot owned by someone other than the Crawfords.
The Crawfords lived in a two-family home located on Lot 37, and parked their cars and an unused boat on Lot 36. In 1984, the Crawfords moved from the home, but their sons continued living there. It is unclear from the record when a chain-linked fence on Lot 36 was erected or who erected it. Although the Crawfords claim to have placed "No Parking" and "No Parking in Driveway" signs on the fence, it is also unclear from the record when they did so.
Beginning in 1975, the Crawfords failed to pay the taxes due on Lot 36. As a result, on December 20, 1976, the City purchased a tax sale certificate for that lot and recorded it on July 8, 1977.
On June 28, 1978, the City filed an in rem tax foreclosure complaint. It published a notice of foreclosure in the Star Ledger on June 30, 1978. On July 5, 1978 the City posted a copy of the published notice:
1. On a bulletin board in the basement of Newark City Hall;
2. In the main public office of the Tax Collector of the City of Newark;
3. On the bulletin board in the Essex County Register's vault;
4. On a bulletin board in the basement of the Essex County District Court, High Street, ...