New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority v. McCrane

Citation292 A.2d 580,119 N.J.Super. 457
Decision Date15 November 1971
CourtSuperior Court of New Jersey

George F. Kugler, Jr., Atty. Gen., (Joseph M. Clayton, Jr., Deputy Atty. Gen., appearing), for New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority.

T. Girard Wharton, Somerville, special counsel appointed by the Supreme Court of New Jersey, for Joseph M. McCrane, Jr., Treasurer of the State of New Jersey.

Alfred A. Porro, Jr., Lyndhurst, for Henry Cheval and others.

Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, Perth Amboy, (Robert N. Wilentz, Perth Amboy, appearing) for Monmouth Park Jockey Club.

William D. Gorgone, Saddle Brook, for James L. Plosia and others.

Chandless, Weller & Kramer, Hackensack (Ralph W. Chandless, Hackensack, appearing), for Township of South Hackensack and Board of Education of South Hackensack, intervenors.

I The Act


On January 12, 1971, in his annual address to the Legislature, Governor Cahill noted the potential of a sports complex in the meadowlands to be occupied by one or more major league sports teams.

On April 19, 1971, the Sports Complex bill was introduced and overwhelmingly passed in the Senate by a 28-2 vote and in the Assembly by a 53-6 vote.

On May 10, 1971 Governor Cahill signed L.1971, c. 137, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority Law, now cited as N.J.S.A. 5:10-1 et seq. The act creates the Authority as "an instrumentality of the State exercising public and essential governmental functions."

The Legislature specifically found that "the general welfare, health and prosperity of the people of the State [will] be promoted by the holding of athletic contests, horse racing and other spectator sporting events and of trade shows and other expositions * * *; that in order to induce professional athletic teams * * * to locate these franchises in the State, it is necessary to provide stadiums and related facilities for the use of such teams, in addition to the facilities for horse racing and other spectator events; that such stadiums and other facilities would also accommodate other events and serve other uses which would provide needed recreation, forums and expositions for the public." The Legislature further found that "additional facilities [were] needed * * * to accommodate trade shows and other expositions in order to promote industry and development * * * and provide a forum for public events." The Legislature declared that the location of the complex in the meadowlands "would stimulate the needed development" of the area. N.J.S.A. 5:10-2.

The Authority is empowered * * * to establish, develop, construct, operate, maintain, improve and otherwise effectuate a project to be located in the Hackensack meadowlands upon a site not to exceed 750 acres consisting of one or more stadiums, coliseums, arenas, pavilions, stands, field houses, playing fields, recreation centers, courts, gymnasiums, club houses, a race track for the holding of horse race meetings, and other buildings, structures, facilities, properties and appurtenances incidental and necessary to a complex suitable for the holding of athletic contests or other sporting events, or trade shows, exhibitions, spectacles, public meetings or other expositions, and such project may include driveways, roads, approaches, parking areas, parks, recreation areas, food vending facilities, restaurants, transportation structures, systems and facilities, and equipment, furnishings, and all other structures and appurtenant facilities related to, necessary for, or complementary to the purposes of the project or any facility thereof. [§ 6(a) ]

To carry out this statutory mandate the Authority is given the power of eminent domain (§ 9) and is authorized to issue bonds and notes which are expressly not debts of the State. § 10. The Authority may relocate public highways and utilities after consultation with the Meadowlands Commission and the Department of Transportation. In locating and constructing the sports and exposition facilities the Authority is exempt from state and local zoning, planning and building codes. § 5(x).

The Authority is a public body corporate and politic established in the Department of Community Affairs. § 4(a). Its membership consists of the State Treasurer, the Attorney General and a member of the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission to be appointed by the Governor, all three being members ex officio, while four other members are to be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. § 4(b). From the latter group the Governor is to appoint a chairman, while the entire membership is to choose a vice-chairman as well as a secretary and treasurer (the latter two need not be members). § 4(d).

The Legislature has the power to dissolve the Authority, provided "no debts or obligations [are] outstanding or that provision has been made for the payment or retirement of such debts * * *. Upon any such dissolution of the authority all * * * assets thereof shall be vested in the State." § 4(h).

The final provision in the act appropriates $1,500,000 from the General State Fund for the purpose of carrying out its functions and duties pursuant to the act. Said appropriation is to be repaid to "the General State Fund out of the proceeds of the first bonds issued by the Authority or other available funds." § 27.

At the organizational meeting of the Authority the membership requested that the State Treasurer transfer to the Authority $100,000 from an appropriation of $1,500,000 for the purpose of defraying preliminary expenses. The Treasurer refused, expressing doubts as to the constitutionality of the enabling statute. In May 1971 the Authority instituted suit for a declaratory judgment as to the validity of the act. Special counsel to represent the Treasurer was appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:1-10. This sequence of facts presents a justiciable controversy ripe for judicial determination.

Subsequently, additional parties were permitted to intervene and three additional suits have been filed challenging the constitutionality of the act. All such suits presently pending have been consolidated by the court on its own motion pursuant to R. 4:38-1. Whenever reference is made to defendants or challengers it is intended to include all parties opposed to the Authority and claiming unconstitutionality of the act.

The decision of this court encompasses the disposition of the cases listed at the head of this opinion.

The Township of Hackensack and its board of education were permitted to intervene in the first-captioned suit. The National Audubon Society was permitted to join as a party-plaintiff in the second-mentioned suit by the addition of a sixth count.

II Summary Judgment

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority Law (herein called the act) and the appointed individuals (herein called the Authority), Monmouth Park Jockey Club (herein called Monmouth Park) and South Hackensack Township and its board of education et al. have filed motions for summary judgment. Counsel for State Treasurer Joseph M. McCrane, T. Girard Wharton, appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court (herein called public counsel), Messrs. Porro and Gorgone representing Cheval et al. (herein referred to as Cheval) and Ploscia et al. (herein referred to as East Rutherford) respectively contend that summary judgment is precluded.

R. 4:46-2 sets forth the guidelines as to summary judgment:

The motion for summary judgment shall be served with briefs and with or without supporting affidavits. The judgment or order sought shall be rendered forthwith in accordance with R. 1:7-4 if the pleadings, depositions and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show palpably that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact challenged and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment or order as a matter of law. A summary judgment or order, interlocutory in character may be rendered on any issue in the action (including the issue of liability) although there is a genuine factual dispute as to any other issue (including any issue as to the amount of damages). Subject to the provisions of R. 4:42-2 (judgment upon multiple claims), a summary judgment final in character may be rendered in respect of any portion of the damages claimed.

The parties have stipulated the following:

1. State officials have been conducting negotiations with the New York Football Giants and other professional sports teams in an attempt to bring a professional major league sports team to New Jersey.

2. The Hackensack meadowlands constitutes a vast reservoir of vacant lands situated in the midst of the New York-Northeastern New Jersey metropolitan area, located only a few miles from Manhattan, and criss-crossed by rail transportation and various major highways, including the New Jersey Turnpike and New Jersey Routes 1-9, 3, 7, 17, 20 and 46.

3. The revenues of the new track would be required, and will actually be used, for the construction of facilities in addition to the track itself, namely for a stadium and other facilities within the project.

4. The new track will have available for its operations a percentage of its handle greater than the percentage of handle available to Monmouth Park for its operations. Additionally, it will, of course, have available the "breaks," which will be at least as large as the "breaks" turned over to the State by Monmouth Park.

5. Monmouth Park paid into the State Treasury of New Jersey for the calendar years 1966 through 1970, inclusive, over $52,000,000.

6. The Racing Commission estimate of revenues for the fiscal year 1971-1972 indicates payment by Monmouth Park of $12,000,000 into the State Treasury.

7. For the...

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38 cases
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    ...of the victim impact statute, we are mindful of the words of Justice (then Judge) Pashman in New Jersey Sports & Exposition Auth. v. McCrane, 119 N.J.Super. 457, 476-77, 292 A.2d 580 (Law Div.1971), aff'd as modified, 61 N.J. 1, 292 A.2d 545, appeal dismissed, 409 U.S. 943, 93 S.Ct. 270, 34......
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