Bill modifying municipal consolidation study rules signed

Legislation that will ease municipal consolidation rules has been signed into law.

The bill, A3587, will modify New Jersey’s Local Option Consolidation Act to allow municipal consolidation studies to occur via a hybrid application process.

The measure, sponsored by Assembly Democrats Connie Wagner, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Lou Greenwald and Pam Lampitt, was drafted  in response to the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) invalidating a proposal for a consolidation study between Merchantville and Cherry Hill because the municipalities submitted a hybrid application, the legislators said in a release.

Such an application for a consolidation study occurs when two municipalities seeking to explore a merger take different paths to approve the study: approval from the governing body of one, usually the larger; and a petition from residents in the other, usually the smaller.

“It is patently ridiculous that the administration would prohibit two towns from exploring a merger simply because they didn’t express their support for the idea in an identical fashion,” Wagner said in a release. “If writing flexibility into the law is what it takes to seriously encourage municipal consolidation in New Jersey, then that is what we had to do.”

Bill modifying municipal consolidation study rules signed