Rockleigh Threatened


 Article ID: 2150017
Published on October 11, 1995, The Record (New Jersey)


The proposal would have abolished Bergen County's second-smallest town and potentially paved the way for the opening of a controversial nursing home. But now the man behind the idea is pulling the plug. Three months after filing it in the state Senate, Sen. Byron M. Baer, D-Englewood, is planning to withdraw a bill he wrote to abolish the borough of Rockleigh. Baer filed the measure, which would have required Rockleigh to become part of Northvale, at the end of June. Due to the...


SENATE, No. 2231



By Senator BAER

  1. AN ACT concerning the consolidation of the borough of

  2. Rockleigh into the borough of Northvale in the County of 

  3. Bergen.


  5. BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the

  6. State of New Jersey:

  7.      1.  All of the parts of the borough of Rockleigh, incorporated

  8. by the New Jersey Legislature pursuant to P.L.1923, c.5.8, on

  9. March 13, 1923, as approved by local referendum, are hereby

  10. consolidated into the borough of Northvale in the County of

  11. Bergen, subject to the requirements of section 2 of this act.

  12.      2. a. Within 209 days of the effective date of this act, the

  13. Director of the Division of Local Government Services in the

  14. Department of Community Affairs shall meet with the mayors

  15. and other such municipal officials as shall be required from

  16. Rockleigh Borough and Northvale Borough.

  17.          b. In consultation with the mayors the director shall establish

  18. a timetable for consolidation to become effective and shall

  19. make such budget, financial and educational district adjustments

  20. as shall be required to complete the consolidation. The

  21. Commissioner of Education also shall be consulted with regard to

  22. matters concerning the adjustment of educational districts,  if

  23. necessary. The director shall establish a timetable for the

  24. preparation of a new official map of the consolidated

  25. municipality showing the new boundaries.

  26.         c. The director, in consultation with the mayors, shall have all

  27. of the powers of a consolidation commission under the "Municipal 

  28. Consolidation Act," P.L.1977, c.435 (C.40:43-66.35 et seq.).

  29.      3. a. The consolidated municipality shall continue to form of

  30. government and name of Northvale Borough.

  31.          b. The clerk of Northvale Borough shall notify the Secretary of

  32. State and county clerk of the consolidation upon completion.

  33.          c. The offices and positions of the elected and appointed

  34. municipal officials of Rockleigh Borough shall terminate upon the 

  35. completion of the consolidation, in accordance with the timetable

  36. established by the director pursuant to subsection b. of section 2

  37. of this act.

  38.          d. The elected and appointed officers of Northvale Borough 

  39.  shall continue their terms of office or appointment upon creation 

  40. of the consolidated municipality as if no consolidation had 

  41. occurred and, except as provided in subsection e. of this section, 

  42. the ordinances of Northvale Borough shall be applicable to the 

  43. entire consolidated municipality.

  44.         e. The master plan, official map and zoning ordinances of

  45. Rockleigh Borough shall continue in effect until reviewed and

  46. revised by the consolidated municipal governing body.



  1.      4. a. Any application for development, as defined pursuant to

  2. section 3 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-3), that is pending before

  3. the planning board, or on appeal before the Borough of Rockleigh

  4. governing body, on the effective date of this act, is hereby

  5. transferred to the appropriate body of the Borough of Northvale,

  6. notwithstanding the timetable for consolidation established by 

  7. the director pursuant to subsection b. of section 2 of this act.

  8.          b. An applicant may withdraw an appeal pending before the

  9. governing body of Rockleigh Borough on the effective date of this 

  10. act from an action of the Borough of Rockleigh planning board

  11. and submit a new application for development to the zoning or

  12. planning board in the Borough of Northvale, as appropriate.

  13.          c. An appeal before the Superior Court on the effective date

  14. of this act of a final determination of the planning board or 

  15. governing body pf the Borough of Rockleigh concerning an

  16. application for development, may be, at the option of the

  17. applicant, withdrawn. The applicant may then submit the

  18. application for development for consideration, de novo, before 

  19. the planning board or zoning board of adjustment, as appropriate,

  20. in the Borough of Northvale.

  21.      5. This act shall take effect immediately.


  23.                                        STATEMENT


  25.       This bill consolidates Rockleigh Borough into Northvale

  26. Borough. Rockleigh Borough was taken from Northvale Borough

  27. in 1923, in part to be a tac haven for its residents. With a

  28. population less than 300 persons there is no justification for

  29. Rockleigh Borough to remain as a separate unit of local

  30. government. The consolidation procedure under the  "Municipal 

  31. Consolidation Act," P.L.1977, c.435 (C.40:43-66.35 ), involving a

  32. public question and the election of a consolidation commission,

  33. has never been invoked in the State and is extremely burdensome

  34. for municipalities with small populations such as Rockleigh 

  35. Borough. This bill would require the Director of teh Division of

  36. Local Government Services in the Department of Community

  37. Affairs to meet wit hte two mayors and other local officials and

  38. perform the functions of a consolidation commission to determine

  39. all matters necessary to accomplish the consolidation. The 

  40. consolidated municipality would retain the name Northvale

  41. Borough as well as retaining that borough's elected officials.

  42. The bill also immediately transfers zoning and planning matters 

  43. on applications for development in the territory comprising

  44. Rockleigh Borough to the zoning and planning boards of Northvale 

  45. Borough. Rockleigh Borough's master plan, official map and 

  46. zoning ordinances would continue in effect until changed by the

  47. consolidated borough. Appeals from actions on applications for

  48. development of the Rockleigh Borough planning board could be,

  49. at the option of the applicant, withdrawn and the application

  50. submitted to the appropriate body in Northvale Borough.



  53.                    _________________________

  54. Consolidates Rockleigh Borough into Northvale Borough.


Web Master Comment

While this attempt to abolish Rockleigh by consolidation with Northvale may have been laughable, it posed a very real and serious threat to the existence of Rockleigh Borough and the property values of all Rockleigh landowners. Consider that this bill (S2231) was actually introduced in the New Jersey Senate at Trenton June, 1995. The proposed abolition of Rockleigh Borough along with its statutes and zoning by consolidation with Northvale with the imposition of Northvale's statutes and zoning could have happened by legislative action without any input from the citizens or governing body of Rockleigh Borough

Some of the wording of S2231 is uncharacteristically specific about certain development, planning board, and zoning issues with specific protections and provisions for developers with submissions before the planning board or with "an appeal before the Superior Court."  As implied in The Record article, it was likely that these transparent specifics caused embarrassment for Senator Baer, resulting in his withdrawal of S2231.  

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