A New Jersey appeals court recently addressed a municipality’s solid waste collection obligations under N.J.S.A. 40:66-1.3(a). In Kiejdan Family LLC v. Borough of Woodbine, the court held that the borough’s policy of requiring curbside pickup from a multifamily apartment complex, rather than providing reimbursement for such services, was arbitrary and capricious.
The Facts of the Case
The case revolves around N.J.S.A. 40:66-1.3(a), which requires a municipality, that provides solid waste collection services to its residents, to reimburse multifamily dwellings for the cost of providing such service, up to the amount the municipality would have expended had it provided such services directly to the multifamily dwelling. As an alternative to reimbursement, the statute permits a municipality to provide solid waste collection services to multifamily dwellings in the same manner as provided to the residents, who live along public roads and streets.
The plaintiff, Kiejdan Family LLC, owns a multifamily apartment complex in the Borough of Woodbine. The plaintiff filed suit after the Borough denied the plaintiff reimbursement for solid waste collection under the statute. The Borough maintained that it would pick up solid waste at plaintiff’s apartment complex provided residents placed their trash at “curbside” in accordance with its municipal ordinance governing trash collection. However, the plaintiff claimed that the requirement was impractical and inimical to the public health.
After a two-day trial, the trial court entered judgment in favor of plaintiff and awarded a judgment of $55,709.70 “for the collection of solid waste for the years 2008 through and including 2012.” The Borough appealed.
The Court’s Decision
The Appellate Division upheld the trial court’s decision that curbside collection of Woodbine Manor solid waste from Webster Street did not provide a viable statutory alternative to reimbursement.
As explained by the court:
[I]f a municipality insists on curbside pickup at a multifamily, garden apartment complex, and the owner has made a clear showing that the municipality’s “curbside” collection method as to that complex bears no rational relation to the legislative policy of “shielding the public from the hazards associated with accumulating refuse,” the municipality’s policy as applied to such complex is a violation of due process, arbitrary and not a viable option under N.J.S.A. 4:66-1.3(a).
The court also rejected the Borough’s argument that because a private contractor was willing to pick up solid waste within the Woodbine Manor complex, such pick-up falls within the concept of “curbside.” While the court acknowledged that the Borough could have offered a reasonable alternative to statutory reimbursement, such as picking up solid waste from within the complex, it did not offer that option to the plaintiff prior to the suit.
For more information about the court’s decision or the legal issues involved, we encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Government Law Group.