Rosa v. Borough of Leonia L-000750-18 (Bergen County Sup. Court)
A lawsuit has been commenced against the Borough of Leonia regarding the closure of streets during rush hour. I’ve obtained the complaint and posted it below.
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The complaint cites NJ Statutes that the plaintiff claims is in conflict with Leonia’s new law, designed to block George Washington Bridge commuter traffic from snarling local streets in the morning and evening rush hour.
As stated in the complaint, “[t]he Ordinance specifically mandates that over seventy streets will be closed to the public during designated hours, unless that person is a resident of the specific street, or needing access to his or her home within the Borough, or can name a business they are going to.”
You can see a google maps rendering of the areas closed to public here.
The complaint alleges that Leonia has violated NJ Statute 39:4-8:
Except as otherwise provided in this section, no ordinance… concerning, regulating, or governing traffic or traffic conditions, adopted or enacted by any… body having jurisdiction over highways, shall be of any force or effect unless the same is approved by the commissioner, according to law. The commissioner shall not be required to approve any such ordinance… unless, after investigation by the commissioner, the same shall appear to be in the interest of safety and the expedition of traffic on the public highways. The commissioner’s investigation need not include more than a review of the ordinance, resolution, or regulation, and the supporting documentation submitted by a board or body having jurisdiction over highways, unless the commissioner determines that additional investigation is warranted.
Prior to the adoption of any municipal or county ordinance… which places any impact on roadways in an adjoining municipality or county, the governing… body of the municipality… shall provide appropriate notice to the adjoining municipality or county.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this section to the contrary, any municipal… ordinance… which places any impact on a State roadway shall require the approval of the commissioner. (emphasis added)
The complaint also alleges that Leonia has violated NJ Statute 39:4-197:
Except as otherwise provided in R.S.39:4-8, no municipality shall pass an ordinance… on a matter covered by or which alters or in any way nullifies the provisions of this chapter or any supplement to this chapter; except that a municipality may pass, without the approval of the commissioner, and consistent with the current standards prescribed by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways, ordinances… or by ordinances… may authorize the adoption of regulations by the… body, or official having control of traffic in the public streets, regulating special conditions existent in the municipality on the subjects and within the limitations following:
b.Limiting use of streets to certain class of vehicles, except that nothing in this paragraph shall permit a municipality to pass an ordinance or resolution limiting use of streets by commercial motor vehicles without the approval of the commissioner. (emphasis added)
Finally, the complaint alleges that Leonia has violated NJ Statute 39:4-94.2:
Whenever by… appropriate action of the governing body of a municipality, a municipal street or road is declared closed to traffic for any lawful purpose, and a notice of the closing has been posted at the beginning and ending points of the closed section of the… street, and a barricade erected at those points, any person who without the permission of the… governing body of the… municipality, as the case may be:
b. Drives a vehicle over or upon the closed section of the highway, road or street which he knows or should have reason to know has been closed to traffic; or
c. Violates any rule or regulation for the use of the… street duly made by the… municipal governing body, as authorized by law, he shall be subject to a fine of not more than $100.00.
As Leonia is charging $200, the plaintiff claims the amount of the fine violates the statute.
Open Public Record Requests for requests to the commissioner have been submitted, but so far, no documentation has been received.