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Pulte Homes Company of the Delaware Valley, Inc. v. Warren Township Sewerage Authority

A-6002-00T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2002) (Unpublished)

UTILITY AUTHORITIES; STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS— The statute of limitations does not bar a demand for an accounting of utility connection deposits when the application of those deposits is actually made years later and the amount of the actual connection fees could not have been known during the six year period after the deposits were first made.

When a developer began selling houses, a municipal sewer authority demanded connection fees to connect the homes to the sewer system. The developer then sued the sewer authority for a credit against monies paid to the authority by its predecessor-in-interest under an agreement to provide sewer connections for the residential properties the predecessor was developing, as well as an accounting of the connection fees charged. Its claim was that its predecessor-in-interest had agreed to pay, under duress, a special capital contribution towards the expansion of the trunk system in order to obtain the sewer connections and that it was entitled to a credit for the fees paid by its predecessor-in-interest. The lower court granted the sewer authority’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the statute of limitations had expired because the capital contributions were paid more than six years earlier. It also rejected the developer’s request for an accounting for the same reason. The Appellate Division reversed the dismissal as to the demand for an accounting. It agreed that the alleged duress arose more than six years before the developer’s suit, but disagreed with the lower court’s finding that the developer’s right to an accounting of the methodology used by the municipality to calculate the connection fee was barred by the six year statute of limitations. It held that the amount of the connection fee could not have been known or calculated at the time of the agreement, it could only be determined once the current developer applied for a sewer connection.

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