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Heathers Realty, LLC v. Borough of Lindenwold

A-2757-06T5 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2008) (Unpublished)

MUNICIPALITIES; MULTIPLE DWELLINGS — A municipality can satisfy its legal obligation to provide solid waste services to multi-family dwellings by requiring that the multi-family dwelling uses the same kind of trash receptacles that other residents of the municipality use; the municipality is not required to collect from on-site dumpsters if other residents only use trash cans.

The owner of a garden apartment complex paid a private waste hauler to collect and remove solid waste and recyclables from onsite dumpsters. The New Jersey Legislature subsequently adopted a law requiring municipalities that provide solid waste services to their residents to reimburse a multifamily dwelling for the actual cost of providing that service or to provide the service in the same manner as provided to the residents of the municipality who live along public roads and streets. The owner and the responding municipality corresponded regarding the pickup of the owner’s trash or for reimbursement of removal costs. The municipality advised that it would pickup trash in accordance with its trash ordinance that called for set sized containers placed curbsite at a public road.

The owner sued the municipality for reimbursement of removal costs. The municipality answered and filed a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the complaint, arguing the municipality’s offer of curbside pickup satisfied its statutory obligation. The lower court granted summary judgment, holding the municipality satisfied its obligation by offering the owner municipal service of weekly curbside pickup available to other properties. It also found the municipality did not breach a legal obligation by not delivering set sized containers to the owner as it was the owner’s responsibility to obtain the receptacles and comply with the weekly curbside pickup if it did not want to incur the expense of onsite dumpster trash removal. The owner appealed.

The Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the action. It was satisfied that the lower court had a sufficient record upon which to grant summary judgment. The Court held that it was the owner’s responsibility to pick up receptacles and place trash outside.

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