Very often common interest community associations and their boards believe that the benefits and/or protections afforded by what is commonly known as “Title 39”, and the protections of New Jersey’s Municipal Services Act, are available to communities only to the extent those communities’ roads are public (i.e., dedicated to the municipality). While often it may be beneficial for a common interest community to have public, as opposed to private, roads, the benefits and/or protections referenced above are not conditioned on that community having public roads. Briefly, N.J.S.A. 39:5A-1 allows a common interest community to ask its local municipality to apply New Jersey’s motor vehicle laws to the private roads and streets located within that community. Additionally, New Jersey’s Municipal Services Act, N.J.S.A. 40:67-23.2 to -23.8, obligates every municipality to either provide certain services to a community located in that municipality, or reimburse that community for these services. The “services” include snow and/or ice removal, collection of trash, collection of recyclables and street lighting.
The application of Title 39 to a common interest community’s roads does not make those roads public. Quite the contrary. The entire purpose of N.J.S.A. 39:5A-1 is to allow for the application of motor vehicle laws to the interior of a community, even though the roads therein remain private. Once Title 39 is applied, local police can issue parking tickets, speeding tickets, careless driving tickets, etc., and enforce them via the local municipal courts. The common interest community, through its board, management or rules, no longer needs to carry that burden. In fact, according to current law, a community, once Title 39 is applied, is prohibited from enforcing any rules and regulations in place that relate to parking, speeding, manner of driving, etc. Throughout all of this effort and time, the roads and streets remain private.
Similarly, private communities are entitled to either the services or reimbursements noted above even though the roads and streets of that community are private. This is self-evident when once remembers the purpose of the municipal services act – eliminate the double taxation of common interest community association residents. In Briarglen II Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. Township of Freehold, 330 N.J. Super. 345, 353 (App. Div. 2000), the court further articulated that the legislative intent of the Act was to “help eliminate double payment for some services which the residents of qualified private communities now pay through property taxes and fees to their association.” Importantly, this law specifically provides for and allows a municipality to provide these services (operate garbage trucks, snowplows, etc.) on roads and streets that remain private.
In the end, it is important that common interest community associations, their boards and management note that New Jersey’s motor vehicle laws and those benefits afforded by New Jersey’s Municipal Services Act are applicable to communities and their private roads and streets.