Hearthwood Condominium Association v. Mayor and Council of the Borough of Florham Park

A-7599-95T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1997) (Unpublished)
  • Opinion Date: October 14, 1997

MUNICIPALITIES; CONDOMINIUMS;—A municipality is not required to maintain water and sewer lines that run under the streets of a private community.

Three condominium associations sought to compel the Borough of Florham Park to maintain and repair the associations’ water and sewer lines that ran under the associations’ private streets. Neither the roads nor the water and sewer lines were ever transferred to the Borough, and the Borough did not maintain these lines under private property of any kind without a dedication or transfer. The associations contended that because some fraction of their water and sewer charges went to repair and maintain public water and sewer lines, it should also go to repair or maintain their private lines (i.e. those undedicated lines running under the associations’ private streets). Therefore, it was contended that the Borough’s policy conferred a benefit on single-family residents that is not reciprocated, in violation of the guarantee of equal protection.

The Appellate Division agreed with the motion judge that there was a difference in the status between sewer lines in public streets and those in private streets. The services required for work such as fixing, repairing, and extending water and sewer lines and repairing roads would result in a public entity doing work for, and restoring assets of, a private entity whose interest is separate and apart from the public interest. Since there is a distinction between public and private lines, there can be no violation of equal protection. The Court found that there was equal protection between single-family residents and the condominium residents since the Borough does not maintain the undedicated water and sewer lines of either group. The Appellate Court found nothing irrational about the Borough’s decision not to maintain private lines.