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The Hills of Independence Condominium Assoc., Inc. v. Mayor and Council of the Twp. of Independence

A-4672-01T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2003) (Unpublished)

CONDOMINIUMS; MUNICIPAL SERVICES—A municipality’s delay in resolving a dispute over the reimbursement rate for services to be provided to a qualified private community is not a violation of a protected constitutional right.

The Municipal Services Act requires municipalities to provide the same services along the roads and streets of a qualified private community as it provides to other residents along its public roads and streets. Instead of providing the services directly, a municipality may reimburse the private community for some or all of those services. In this case, a municipality elected not to provide snow removal services to a condominium. It took many years for the municipality and condominium association to agree on the terms of a Municipal Services Agreement. The association sued to compel the municipality to enter into a Municipal Services Agreement and also sought reimbursement of its attorney’s fees under 42 U.S.C.A. secs. 1983 and 1988. In order to receive reimbursement of its attorney’s fees, the association needed to prove the denial of a protected constitutional right. In this case, the association claimed that the municipality’s failure to proceed in a speedy manner to reimburse it for snow removal resulted in unequal treatment, giving rise to a federal claim and entitling it to attorney’s fees. The Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s denial of the association’s claim. It found that the delay in reimbursing the association for snow removal costs did not rise to the level of a claim for deprivation of the association’s right and was not a tort. The association failed to prove that the municipality violated a constitutionally protected right or that it was denied due process. Since the association failed to prove its unequal protection claim, it was not entitled to reimbursement of its attorney’s fees.

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