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Shoreline Sand & Gravel, L.L.C. v. Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders

A-2934-07T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2008) (Unpublished)

SOLID WASTE — Adoption of a solid waste management plan or a plan amendment constitutes a quasi-legislative administrative agency action that is entitled to a strong presumption of validity.

The operator of a sand and gravel mine facility sued the county because its recycling center was left out of the county’s solid waste management plan. The trial record demonstrated that the mining operator’s facility was “not in conformity with current zoning and [was] virtually surrounded by residential developments.” Further, an additional residential development was expected near the facility. Even more, was that another recycling center already served the same portion of the county as the facility in question. This meant that the complaining operator could not “demonstrate that its facility satisfie[d] an unmet need.” In hearings before the county, many nearby residents “reported increased noise levels, traffic and odors” from the existing facility.”

The lower court denied relief to the mining operator and in the operator’s appeal, the Appellate Division agreed with the lower court. According to the Court, “adoption of a solid waste management plan or a plan amendment constitutes a quasi-legislative administrative agency action. ... When an administrative agency, like the [County Board] takes this type of action it is generally entitled to a strong presumption of validity.” Consequently, “[t]he [lower] court’s task is to review a board’s decision to determine whether it was arbitrary or capricious.” When assessing “an application to amend its solid waste management plan, a board may consider: a) whether the proposed facility will complement existing or planned recycling facilities or operations; b) whether the proposed facility will have a negative effect on existing agreements between the county and other operators; c) whether the proposed fees and charges are reasonable; d) whether the proposed facility is consistent with the planning and land development scheme of the municipality in which it is located; and e) whether the proposed design and operation of the facility will allow an efficient operation.”

Based upon the facts before it, the Court ruled that the board did not act arbitrarily and therefore it affirmed the lower court’s order which, itself, denied relief to the mining operator.


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