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Old 02-27-2015, 07:43 PM
 
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The county in NJ i grew up in had ~50 municipalities (and still does). It's really not all that strange when you think of the era in which it all happened. Most of the boroughs started out as villages surrounded by farming communities. It wasn't until the advent of municipal services (mainly gas & electric) that there was a push to incorporate these places. The progressive era was happening around the same time where people were genuinely afraid of big city political machines and were incorporating to stave off annexation and the corruption that would follow.

The size of some of these towns are so ridiculous that it took 4 towns to populate my high school and half of my friends at that time went to a different high school even though they only lived 2 or 3 blocks away from me. Every time the cops would **** with us the first thing they would ask is "where do you live" and they would say something like, "that's not in this town, what are you doing here?" to which one of us would invariably point at our nearby house and say "I live right there."

Here is the height of absurdity - Loch Arbour, New Jersey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
So if you click on the map of the town there's no detail missing. It is literally two blocks wide and seven blocks long. You can also see how small neighboring Allenhurst and Interlaken are. They've been paying a neighboring town for police services for at least a decade. The kids already go to school in Ocean Township - which is nearby but doesn't share a border. Town residents narrowly rejected a merger with Ocean Twp but in years past rejected mergers with the two neighboring towns that have nearly identical demographics.

At this point in NJ's history there's no reason to have a level of government smaller than a county. The duplication of services is absurd. I don't really buy the arguments against consolidation. Not all services need to be consolidated at once - start with libraries, move on to roads, then cops and firefighters, then parks, then schools. It's kind of ridiculous to say that that, for instance, a Camden County merger will put some tremendous burden on the County or the State because it already is. Savings will be realized but just because an impoverished school changes districts doesn't mean the funding formula needs to change with it the same day.
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Old 02-27-2015, 07:50 PM
 
Location: On the Great South Bay
7,138 posts, read 9,919,413 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Perhaps, the levels of government in NYC suburbs strikes me as excessive. There's state then county, then town and then often an incorporated village. There has to be a lot of duplication there. While I agree the lack of local government in NYC itself is rather extreme, so is the suburban situation. Up here, county government is weak or non-existent. It's really just state and then town here while the state gets a "Taxachusetts" reputation, government costs and spending is quite a bit lower than downstate New York.

One of the sillier situation in the NYC metro is Pelham in Westchester: it's a town of 12,000 people subdivided into two incorporated villages. I get why when you're in the Town of Hempstead with nearly 800,000 people, residents might want a more local government, but a town of 12,000?
I missed this the other day.

I have to say I totally agree with Nei here. I do not understand why such a small town as Pelham, 2.2 square miles, which BTW is TINY for a New York Town, is divided into not one but TWO villages. It makes no sense. With a town so small, village governments are not needed. For instance in contrast, my Town of Babylon is 50 square miles and only has three villages.
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:12 PM
 
Location: On the Great South Bay
7,138 posts, read 9,919,413 times
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Default Borough Mania

Quote:
Originally Posted by drive carephilly View Post
The county in NJ i grew up in had ~50 municipalities (and still does). It's really not all that strange when you think of the era in which it all happened. Most of the boroughs started out as villages surrounded by farming communities. It wasn't until the advent of municipal services (mainly gas & electric) that there was a push to incorporate these places. The progressive era was happening around the same time where people were genuinely afraid of big city political machines and were incorporating to stave off annexation and the corruption that would follow.

The size of some of these towns are so ridiculous that it took 4 towns to populate my high school and half of my friends at that time went to a different high school even though they only lived 2 or 3 blocks away from me. Every time the cops would **** with us the first thing they would ask is "where do you live" and they would say something like, "that's not in this town, what are you doing here?" to which one of us would invariably point at our nearby house and say "I live right there."

Here is the height of absurdity - Loch Arbour, New Jersey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
So if you click on the map of the town there's no detail missing. It is literally two blocks wide and seven blocks long. You can also see how small neighboring Allenhurst and Interlaken are. They've been paying a neighboring town for police services for at least a decade. The kids already go to school in Ocean Township - which is nearby but doesn't share a border. Town residents narrowly rejected a merger with Ocean Twp but in years past rejected mergers with the two neighboring towns that have nearly identical demographics.

At this point in NJ's history there's no reason to have a level of government smaller than a county. The duplication of services is absurd. I don't really buy the arguments against consolidation. Not all services need to be consolidated at once - start with libraries, move on to roads, then cops and firefighters, then parks, then schools. It's kind of ridiculous to say that that, for instance, a Camden County merger will put some tremendous burden on the County or the State because it already is. Savings will be realized but just because an impoverished school changes districts doesn't mean the funding formula needs to change with it the same day.
I read something about the New Jersey situation a few years ago. I think I found it somewhere on the internet but do not ask me where!

Anyway, the New Jersey legislature passed some kind of law back around in the 1800s ( not sure exact date?) that let communities break away from their existing Township, form a new community called a Borough - and totally be free of a debt responsibility that the old Township had.

In other words, if a Township started trying to improve itself and was carrying a public debt, a part of the Township could break away, keep any improvements and not have to pay for it! Not surprising new Boroughs started breaking away all over the place, especially in Bergen County and leaving all the public debts to what was left of the old Townships.

Boroughitis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (The New Jersey Borough mania)

This proved to be a disaster to the old New Jersey townships. If you go through the histories of many New Jersey communities (especially northern NJ), you will find stories like Harrington Township. Parts of Harrington kept breaking away until the entire Township disappeared.

Harrington Township, New Jersey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:46 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
46,053 posts, read 29,554,726 times
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Originally Posted by LINative View Post
I read something about the New Jersey situation a few years ago. I think I found it somewhere on the internet but do not ask me where!

Anyway, the New Jersey legislature passed some kind of law back around in the 1800s ( not sure exact date?) that let communities break away from their existing Township, form a new community called a Borough - and totally be free of a debt responsibility that the old Township had.

In other words, if a Township started trying to improve itself and was carrying a public debt, a part of the Township could break away, keep any improvements and not have to pay for it! Not surprising new Boroughs started breaking away all over the place, especially in Bergen County and leaving all the public debts to what was left of the old Townships.

Boroughitis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (The New Jersey Borough mania)

This proved to be a disaster to the old New Jersey townships. If you go through the histories of many New Jersey communities (especially northern NJ), you will find stories like Harrington Township. Parts of Harrington kept breaking away until the entire Township disappeared.

Harrington Township, New Jersey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wow, that just blew my mind and makes total sense now why New Jersey is the way it is about everything, thanks!
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Old 02-28-2015, 05:00 AM
 
2,388 posts, read 2,958,188 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LINative View Post
I read something about the New Jersey situation a few years ago. I think I found it somewhere on the internet but do not ask me where!

Anyway, the New Jersey legislature passed some kind of law back around in the 1800s ( not sure exact date?) that let communities break away from their existing Township, form a new community called a Borough - and totally be free of a debt responsibility that the old Township had.

In other words, if a Township started trying to improve itself and was carrying a public debt, a part of the Township could break away, keep any improvements and not have to pay for it! Not surprising new Boroughs started breaking away all over the place, especially in Bergen County and leaving all the public debts to what was left of the old Townships.

Boroughitis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (The New Jersey Borough mania)
meh, it's a bit more complicated than that.

The boroughs were/are the town centers of the old townships - which were mostly farms.

As an example - Freehold Borough is the little doughnut hole in Freehold Township. 50 years ago Freehold Township was almost entirely farms but Freehold Borough has been a town for ~300 years
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Fr...730681b4fafefc

But this was an era when the world was modernizing quickly and the people in these town centers that would later become the boroughs wanted the trappings of city life and that required modern infrastructure. The paragraph in the wiki article about Chatham sums it up best. The people in town wanted gas lighting but the yokels on the farms didn't think they should have to pay for it because a) they didn't need it and b) it was only for the town center anyway (even though that's where they had to do all of their shopping/business). But this was happening with everything - gas, electricity, telephone, parks/rec, etc. That's why the town centers broke away as boroughs - sure, they wouldn't have to pay any bonds issued by the township - but the whole point of incorporating as a borough was to issue bonds to pay for the services that the farmers didn't want anything to do with.

Think of it as a precursor to the red state/blue state divide when it comes to issues like healthcare, education, transit, etc. The townships were the red states. It's not quite as stark but to a large extent they still are http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...y_muni.svg.png

In parts of the state that were suburbanizing during the railroad era - Camden County, Middlesex, Monmouth, Bergen, etc you wind up with multiple town centers along the rail lines. In most cases, each of these broke away from the township as a separate borough (some borough still had farms back then so it's not like they were contiguous back then the way they are now.) If you look at the map, especially at Camden County or coastal Monmouth it's easy to see where the rail lines are/were and even where the train stations are/were.

Anyway, now that the townships have all of the general amenities and municipal services that the boroughs do (minus the walkable town center) there's no reason for them to be separate anymore.

Last edited by drive carephilly; 02-28-2015 at 05:18 AM..
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Old 02-28-2015, 12:20 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,445 posts, read 11,948,134 times
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To me the ultimate extreme in New Jersey boroughs is Tavistock. In 2010 it had 5 residents - two married couples and one elderly person living alone. There are five houses however it seems. Oh, and a huge country club, which is undoubtedly why it was incorporated in the first place.
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Old 02-28-2015, 12:30 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Does the state have the right to abolish municipalities or merge them with neighboring ones?
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Old 02-28-2015, 03:46 PM
 
9,520 posts, read 14,854,178 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Does the state have the right to abolish municipalities or merge them with neighboring ones?
It appears it could; in practice, it does not.

Boroughitis was largely a Bergen County phenomenon, though others (like Chatham in Morris county) happened too. Princeton was different; the township came after the borough, which existed before "boroughitis" (and included most of the college). The current combined muncipality is a borough.

For some reason (possibly related to Federal grant money under now defunct block-grant programs), Essex County has mostly townships, including the rather oddly-named "City of Orange Township" (which has a form of government called "Faulkner Act Mayor-Council", which is suspiciously similar to the "city" form)
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Old 02-28-2015, 05:40 PM
 
2,388 posts, read 2,958,188 times
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
To me the ultimate extreme in New Jersey boroughs is Tavistock. In 2010 it had 5 residents - two married couples and one elderly person living alone. There are five houses however it seems. Oh, and a huge country club, which is undoubtedly why it was incorporated in the first place.
Tavistock broke away from Haddonfield over liquor laws.
The country club wanted to sell booze but Haddonfield is a dry town.
It's a lightning rod issue in a lot of NJ boroughs - still.
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Old 02-28-2015, 06:38 PM
 
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Illinois has a serious problem with too many units of government. Too many villages of only a few thousand. Then it gets worse. There are township highway departments, mosquito abatement districts, special recreation districts and the like. Since the State is broke you would expect some effort to consolidate, but the political will is lacking.
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