ASSEMBLY, No. 4429

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED DECEMBER 12, 2016

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  VINCENT PRIETO

District 32 (Bergen and Hudson)

Assemblyman  JON M. BRAMNICK

District 21 (Morris, Somerset and Union)

Assemblyman  MICHAEL PATRICK CARROLL

District 25 (Morris and Somerset)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act”; permits publication of legal notices by government agencies and persons on official government notice websites instead of newspapers.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

 


An Act concerning electronic publication of legal notices, supplementing Title 35 of the Revised Statutes, and amending various parts of the statutory law.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    (New section) Sections 1 through 13 of P.L.    , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be known and may be cited as the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act.”

 

     2.  (New section)  The Legislature finds and declares:

     a.  The State of New Jersey, its 21 counties, and most of its municipalities maintain official government websites that are available to the public 24 hours a day.

     b.  By a combination of law, rule, regulation, and court rule, government agencies and persons are currently required to publicly advertise legal notices in newspapers.

     c.  These legal notices are intended to ensure the general public is aware of various actions being proposed or taken by government agencies and persons; providing transparency and an opportunity for the public to comment on these actions.

     d.  Permitting the publication of legal notices on official government websites will make those notices more easily accessible to a greater number of people, thereby promoting transparency and increased public participation in government.  At the same time, costs for government agencies and persons would be reduced, in part providing property tax relief to taxpayers in our State’s local jurisdictions.

     e.  Although the general provisions of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) allow for the electronic publication of legal notices in all instances where there are legal notice requirements, the change also is specifically, redundantly being made to a number of statutes.  The specific statutes amended account for the vast majority of legal notices published in newspapers and therefore warrant further clarity on the availability of the electronic option.

 

     3.    (New section) As used in P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill):

     “Electronic publication” or “electronically publish” means the public advertisement of a legal notice in hypertext markup language format (html), portable document format (PDF), or an equivalent or successor language format or image format, on an official Internet website in accordance with P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     “Government agency” or “agency” means any department, division, office, bureau, board, commission, authority, or any other agency or instrumentality of the State, any political subdivision of the State or combination of political subdivisions, and any division, office, bureau, board, commission, authority, or any other agency or instrumentality within or created by a political subdivision of the State or combination of political subdivisions.

     “Legal notice” or “notice” means any matter of a government agency or a person that, pursuant to law, rule, regulation, or court rule is required to be officially advertised in a newspaper in accordance with R.S.35:1-1 et seq.

     “Notice website” means an Internet website that is maintained by a government agency, or by a third party under contract with the agency, that is contained within an official Internet website, and that contains links to the legal notices electronically published by the agency.

     “Official Internet website” means the Internet location designated by a government agency as its primary source of information about the agency on the Internet.

     “Person” means the same as that term is defined in R.S.1:1-2 and also includes any entity required to publish legal notices.

 

     4.    (New section)  a.  Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, whenever a government agency or a person is required by law to publish a legal notice in one or more newspapers, the government agency or person may satisfy that requirement by causing the required legal notice to be electronically published on a notice website created pursuant to section 5 of P.L.  , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) instead of in a newspaper, provided that the prerequisites of subsection b. of this section have been satisfied.

     b.  A government agency may only publish legal notices solely and exclusively by electronic publication, in lieu of newspaper publication, pursuant to subsection a. of this section if, for a period of at least three calendar months beginning on or after the effective date of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ), the applicable government agency:

     (1) publishes all legal notices both in newspapers, as required by law, and on its official Internet website by electronic publication;

     (2) publishes, twice in each calendar month of this time period in the official newspaper or newspapers of the government agency or, if none, in at least two newspapers designated by the government agency to receive such notices because they have the greatest likelihood of informing the public within the area of jurisdiction of the government agency, a notice that all legal notices relating to the government agency may be solely and exclusively published by electronic publication beginning at the end of this time period and containing the Internet website address for the notice website; and

     (3) prominently displays, for this entire time period on its official Internet website, a notice that all legal notices relating to the government agency may be solely and exclusively published by electronic publication beginning at the end of this time period.

 

     5.    (New section) A government agency may create a notice website and electronically publish its legal notices and the legal notices of persons thereon, provided that all of the following requirements are met:

     a.     The government agency’s official Internet website, the notice website containing links to the legal notices, and the webpages containing the actual legal notices, shall comply with the accessibility standards of section 508 of the "Rehabilitation Act of 1973” (29 U.S.C. s.794d);

     b.    The government agency’s official Internet website containing the notice website shall be registered with the Office of Information Technology, in but not of the Department of the Treasury, for posting on the State Internet website that lists Internet websites of government agencies;

     c.     The government agency’s official Internet website shall prominently display a link to the notice website, which shall be an index webpage containing a list of all current legal notices of the agency, with links to the full text of those notices in lieu of summaries of the notices.  The index webpage shall also contain a search function and other features that improve public accessibility to legal notices;

     d.    (1) The official Internet website with a link to the notice website, as well as the notice website itself, shall contain an e-mail link or address to submit a complaint to the government agency if any legal notice is inaccessible or the legal notice is deficient;

     (2) The government agency shall review all complaints reported pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection to determine the cause of any access problem and shall document the findings and any action taken to resolve it; and

     (3) The government agency shall keep and make available for public inspection all records of complaints and service accessibility failures reported pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection;

     e.     Whenever a person is unable to access an electronic publication of a government notice, the government agency shall provide a copy of the notice to the person free of charge;

     f.     Whenever an electronically published legal notice is inaccessible for 25 percent or more of the publication timeframe provided by law, the legal notice shall be electronically published for the entirety of that timeframe beginning anew from the day on which access to the notice is restored, and the action for which the legal notice is required shall be delayed accordingly;

     g.    Notices shall remain available on the notice website at least until the last posting date required by law has expired or until the event described in a notice has taken place, whichever occurs later;

     h.    The government agency shall create, or have provided by the notice website contractor, and keep on file an electronic or paper-based certification or affidavit of posting required for each legal notice in the same manner as is done for printed notices.  The affidavit or certification shall state that the notice was posted from the initial date through either the last posting date required by law or the date when the event described in a notice takes place, whichever occurs later.  A certification need not be notarized.  The government agency shall provide a copy of the certification or affidavit free of charge upon request;

     i.     The government agency shall designate one or more officials to serve as contact persons who handle the intake and processing of legal notices requested to be electronically published by a person, and shall comply with the additional requirements of section 6 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), concerning the Internet publication of legal notices required to be published by a person; and

     j.     The government agency shall designate an official to be responsible for electronic publications and shall post that official’s name and contact information on the notice website.

 

     6.    (New section)  a.  A person required by law to publish an official notice in one or more newspapers may cause the notice to be electronically published on an appropriate State or local government agency notice website, provided that:

     (1) the appropriate State or local government agency maintains an official notice website in accordance with section 5 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill);

     (2) the person contacts the appropriate State or local government agency and completes a written request for the publication of the legal notice; and

     (3) the notice meets all of the necessary content and time frame requirements provided by law.

     b.    Upon satisfaction of the conditions in subsection a. of this section, the appropriate State or local government agency shall cause the notice to be electronically published on its official notice website at no cost to the person.

     c.     The appropriate State or local government agency shall provide the person a copy of the electronically published notice, and a copy of the certification or affidavit of publishing required under subsection g. of section 5 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     7.    (New section)  a.  On or before the first day of the third month next following the effective date of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the Office of Information Technology, in but not of the Department of the Treasury, shall establish on the State Internet website a webpage that contains a directory of all government agency notice websites created pursuant to section 5 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), and shall establish a link to the directory webpage that is prominently displayed on the home webpage of the State Internet website.

     b.  The Office of Information Technology shall continuously maintain the directory webpage, and shall update the directory webpage to include the notice website of a government agency within 10 days after receiving notice from the government agency that it has created a notice website.

 

     8.    (New section)  a.  Proof of publication of an electronically published legal notice for the purpose of complying with public notice requirements shall be satisfied and deemed conclusive upon the provision of the certification or affidavit pursuant to subsection g. of section 5 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) by the official responsible for the electronic publication, stating that the notice was posted from the initial date until the last posting date required by law or until the event described in a notice has taken place, whichever occurs later.

     b.  Any action for which a legal notice has been published solely by electronic publication without meeting the requirements of P.L. , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), shall be voidable in a proceeding before the Superior Court brought by any person within 45 days after the action sought to be voided has been made public; provided, however, that a government agency or person may take corrective or remedial action by acting de novo following the electronic publication of notice in accordance with P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and other applicable law regarding the action.

 

     9.    (New section)  Any local government agency which elects to electronically publish legal notices on a notice website must electronically publish, in addition to legal notices as defined by section 3 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), notice of any public meeting, the minutes of any meeting of the governing body, the full text of any proposed ordinance or resolution to be considered by the governing body, all public contracts for goods or services, and, if the agency is a municipality or county, the municipal or county code.

 

     10.  (New section) Any notice related to real property required by law to be published in a newspaper, including but not limited to a notice of foreclosure or sheriff’s sale, may be electronically published on the notice website of the sheriff of the county in which the lands affected are located instead of in a newspaper, in accordance with the provisions of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     11.  (New section) Savings that a local government agency realizes from publishing legal notices by electronic publication in lieu of newspaper publication pursuant to P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be used solely and exclusively to reduce the amount required to be raised by the local property tax levy.

 

     12.  (New section)  On or before the first day of the third month next following the effective date of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the Chief Technology Officer of the Office of Information Technology, in but not of the Department of the Treasury, shall, in consultation with the Director of the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs, promulgate rules and regulations, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), in order to effectuate the provisions of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     13.  Section 3 of P.L.1975, c.231 (C.10:4-8) is amended to read as follows:

     3.  As used in [this act] P.L.1975, c.231 (C.10:4-6 et seq.):

     a.  "Public body" means a commission, authority, board, council, committee or any other group of two or more persons organized under the laws of this  State, and collectively empowered as a voting body to perform a public governmental function affecting the rights, duties, obligations, privileges, benefits, or other legal relations of any person, or collectively authorized to spend public funds including the Legislature, but does not mean or include the judicial branch of the government, any grand or petit jury, any parole board or any agency or body acting in a parole capacity, the State Commission of Investigation, the Apportionment Commission established under Article IV, Section III, of the Constitution, or any political party committee organized under Title 19 of the Revised Statutes.

     b.  "Meeting" means and includes any gathering whether corporeal or by means of communication equipment, which is attended by, or open to, all of the members of a public body, held with the intent, on the part of the members of the body present, to discuss or act as a unit upon the specific public business of that body.  Meeting does not mean or include any such gathering (1) attended by less than an effective majority of the members of a public body, or (2) attended by or open to all the members of three or more similar public bodies at a convention or similar gathering.

     c.  "Public business" means and includes all matters which relate in any way, directly or indirectly, to the performance of the public body's functions or the conduct of its business.

     d.  "Adequate notice" means written advance notice of at least 48 hours, giving the time, date, location and, to the extent known, the agenda of any regular, special or rescheduled meeting, which notice shall accurately state whether formal action may or may not be taken and which shall be (1) prominently posted in at least one public place reserved for such or similar announcements, (2) either (a) electronically published on the notice website of the public body pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L. , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or (b) mailed, telephoned, telegrammed, or hand delivered to at least two newspapers which newspapers shall be designated by the public body to receive such notices because they have the greatest likelihood of informing the public within the area of jurisdiction of the public body of such meetings, one of which shall be the official newspaper, where any such has been designated by the public body or if the public body has failed to so designate, where any has been designated by the governing body of the political subdivision whose geographic boundaries are coextensive with that of the public body, and (3) filed with the clerk of the municipality when the public body's geographic boundaries are coextensive with that of a single municipality, with the clerk of the county when the public body's geographic boundaries are coextensive with that of a single county, and with the Secretary of State if the public body has Statewide jurisdiction.  For any other public body the filing shall be with the clerk or chief administrative officer of such other public body and each municipal or county clerk of each municipality or county encompassed within the jurisdiction of such public body.  Where annual notice or revisions thereof in compliance with section 13 of [this act] P.L.1975, c.231 (C.10:4-18) set forth the location of any meeting, no further notice shall be required for such meeting.

(cf: P.L.1981, c.176, s.2)

 

     14.  Section 4 of P.L.1975, c.231 (C.10:4-9) is amended to read as follows:

     4.  a.  Except as provided by subsection b. of this section, or for any meeting limited only to consideration of items listed in [section 7. b.] subsection b. of section 7 of P.L.1975, c.231 (C.10:4-12), no public body shall hold a meeting unless adequate notice thereof has been provided to the  public.

     b.  Upon the affirmative vote of three quarters of the members present a public body may hold a meeting notwithstanding the failure to provide adequate notice if:

     (1) such meeting is required in order to deal with matters of such urgency and importance that a delay for the purpose of providing adequate notice would be likely to result in substantial harm to the public interest;  and

     (2) the meeting is limited to discussion of and acting with respect to such  matters of urgency and importance;  and

     (3) notice of such meeting is provided as soon as possible following the calling of such meeting by posting written notice of the same in the public place described in [section 3. d. above] subsection d. of section 3 of P.L.1975, c.231 (C.10:4-8), and also by either (a) electronically publishing the notice on the notice website of the public body pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or (b) notifying the two newspapers described in [section 3. d.] subsection d. of section 3 of P.L.1975, c.231 (C.10:4-8) by telephone, telegram, or by delivering a written notice of same to such newspapers; and

     (4) either (a) the public body could not reasonably have foreseen the need for such meeting at a time when adequate notice could have been provided; or (b) although the public body could reasonably have foreseen the need for such meeting at a time when adequate notice could have been provided, it nevertheless failed to do so.

(cf: P.L.1975, c.231, s.4)

 

     15.  N.J.S.2A:61-1 is amended to read as follows:

     2A:61-1.  When any sheriff, coroner, master, executor, administrator, guardian, commissioner, auditor or other officer or person is authorized or required by any public statute or the direction of any court of competent jurisdiction in this State to make sales of real estate, he shall, unless otherwise specially directed or authorized by law, before making the sale, give notice of the time and place of the sale by public advertisement, signed by himself, and set up in the office of the sheriff of the county or counties where the real estate is  located and at the premises to be sold, at least [3] three weeks before the time appointed for the sale.  The notice need not be set up at any other place.  The notice of sale shall include either a diagram of the premises or a concise statement indicating the municipality, the tax lot and block and where appropriate, the street and street number, and the dimensions of the premises, as well as the number of feet to the nearest cross street.  The notice of sale shall state that the diagram or concise description does not constitute a full legal description of the premises, and shall state where the full legal description can be found.

     Such officer or person shall also cause the notice to be published [4] either electronically on the notice website of the municipality where the lands affected are located or the applicable county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L. , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or four times, at least once a week, during [4] four consecutive weeks, in two newspapers, to be by him designated,

     (a) both printed and published in the county where the real estate to be sold is located, one of which shall be either a newspaper published at the county seat of the county or a newspaper published in the municipality in the county having the largest population according to the latest census, or

     (b) one printed and published in the county and one circulating in the county, if only one daily newspaper is printed and published in the county, or

     (c) one published at the county seat and one circulating in the county, if no daily newspaper is published in the county, or

     (d) both circulating in the county, if no newspapers are printed and published in the county.

     The first publication shall be at least 21 days prior and the last publication not more than [8] eight days prior to the time appointed for the sale of the real estate.

     Whenever, in the opinion of any such officer or person, the ends of justice shall require it, or the sale being conducted by him will be benefited thereby , and the notice of sale is not electronically published, the notice of sale may be published in three newspapers instead of two as required by the second paragraph of this section, if there be that number printed and published in the county where the real estate to be sold is located.

     The officer or person so advertising in the newspapers shall be entitled therefor, in addition to his other fees, to the sum of $1.50, except where it is otherwise specifically provided.

(cf: P.L.1979, c.364, s.1)

 

     16.  Section 49 of P.L.1999, c.440 (C.18A:18A-4.5) is amended to read as follows:

     49.  Competitive contracting proposals shall be solicited in the following manner:

     a.     A notice of the availability of request for proposal documentation shall be published either (1) electronically on the notice website of the school district or applicable municipality or county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or (2) in an official newspaper of the board of education at least 20 days prior to the date established for the submission of proposals.  The board of education shall promptly reply to any request by an interested vendor by providing a copy of the request for proposals.  The board of education may charge a fee for the proposal documentation that shall not exceed [$50.00] $50 or the cost of reproducing the documentation, whichever is greater.

     b.    Each interested vendor shall submit a proposal which shall include all the information required by the request for proposals.  Failure to meet the requirements of the request for proposals may result in the board of education disqualifying the vendor from further consideration.  Under no circumstances shall the provisions of a proposal be subject to negotiation by the board of education.

     c.     If the board of education, at the time of solicitation, utilizes its own employees to provide the goods or perform the services, or both considered for competitive contracting, the board of education shall, at any time prior to, but no later than the time of solicitation for competitive contracting proposals, notify affected employees of the board of educations's intention to solicit competitive contracting proposals.  Employees or their representatives shall be permitted to submit recommendations and proposals affecting wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment in such a manner as to meet the goals of the competitive contract.  If employees are represented by an organization that has negotiated a contract with the board of education, only the bargaining unit shall be authorized to submit such recommendations or proposals.  When requested by such employees, the board of education shall provide such information regarding budgets and the costs of performing the services by such employees as may be available.  Nothing shall prevent such employees from making recommendations that may include modifications to existing labor agreements in order to reduce such costs in lieu of award of a competitive contract, and agreements implementing such recommendations may be considered as cause for rejecting all other proposals.

     d.    The purchasing agent or counsel or school business administrator shall evaluate all proposals only in accordance with the methodology described in the request for proposals.   After proposals have been evaluated, the purchasing agent or counsel or school business administrator shall prepare a report evaluating and recommending the award of a contract or contracts.  The report shall list the names of all potential vendors who submitted a proposal and shall summarize the proposals of each vendor.  The report shall rank vendors in order of evaluation, shall recommend the selection of a vendor or vendors, as appropriate, for a contract, shall be clear in the reasons why the vendor or vendors have been selected among others considered, and shall detail the terms, conditions, scope of services, fees, and other matters to be incorporated into a contract.  The report shall be made available to the public at least 48 hours prior to the awarding of the contract, or when made available to the board of education, whichever is sooner.  The board of education shall have the right to reject all proposals for any of the reasons set forth in N.J.S.18A:18A-22.

     e.     Award of a contract shall be made by resolution of the board of education within 60 days of the receipt of the proposals, except that the proposals of any vendors who consent thereto, may, at the request of the board of education, be held for consideration for such longer period as may be agreed.

     f.     The report prepared pursuant to subsection d. of this section shall become part of the public record and shall reflect the final action of the board of education.  Contracts shall be executed pursuant to N.J.S.18A:18A-40.

     g.    The secretary of the board of education shall publish a notice either (1) electronically on the notice website of the school district or applicable municipality or county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or (2) in the official newspaper of the board of education summarizing the award of a contract, which shall include but not be limited to, the nature, duration, and amount of the contract, the name of the vendor and a statement that the resolution and contract are on file and available for public inspection in the office of the secretary of the board of education.

     h.    The Director of the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs, after consultation with the Commissioner of Education, may adopt additional rules and regulations, in accordance with the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), as may be necessary to effectuate the provisions of sections 45 through 49 of P.L.1999, c.440 (C.18A:18A-4.1 through C.18A:18A-4.5).

(cf: P.L.1999, c.440, s.49)

 

     17.  N.J.S.18A:22-11 is amended to read as follows:

     18A:22-11.  The board of education shall cause notice of such public hearing and the statement annexed to the budget to be published either electronically on the notice website of the school district or applicable municipality or county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or at least once in at least one newspaper published in the district and if no newspaper be published therein, then in at least one newspaper circulating in said district not less than four days prior to the date fixed for such public hearing.

(cf: P.L.1995, c.278, s.41)

 

     18.  Section 3 of P.L.1960, c.183 (C.40:37A-46) is amended to read as follows:

     3.  The governing body of a county may by ordinance or resolution, as appropriate, create a public body corporate and politic under and pursuant to [this act] P.L.1960, c.183 (C.40:37A-44 et seq.), under the name and style of "the          county improvement authority," with all or any significant part of the name of said county inserted.  Said body shall consist of the 5 members thereof, who shall be residents of the county and be appointed by ordinance or resolution of said governing body as hereinafter provided, and it shall constitute the authority contemplated and provided for in [this act] P.L.1960, c.183 (C.40:37A-44 et seq.) and an agency or instrumentality of said county.  Copies of said ordinance or resolution for the creation of the authority, certified by the clerk of said governing body, shall be filed in the office of the Secretary of State and in the office of the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs.  A copy of any such certified ordinance or resolution, duly certified by or on behalf of the Secretary of State, shall be admissible in evidence in any action or proceeding and shall be conclusive evidence of due and proper adoption and filing thereof as aforesaid.  After such filing in the office of the Secretary of State, a copy of said ordinance or resolution shall be published either electronically on the notice website of the county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or at least once in a newspaper published or circulating in the county, together with a notice stating the fact and date of its adoption and the date of the first publication of such notice.  If no action questioning the validity of the creation or establishment of the authority shall be commenced within 45 days after the first publication of such notice, then said authority shall be conclusively deemed to have been validly created and established and authorized to transact business and exercise powers as a public body created pursuant to [this act] P.L.1960, c.183 (C.40:37A-44 et seq.).

(cf: P.L.1982, c.113, s.2)

 

     19.  Section 19 of P.L.1960, c.183 (C.40:37A-62) is amended to read as follows:

     19.  An authority shall cause a copy of any bond resolution adopted by it to be filed for public inspection in its office and in the office of the clerk of the governing body of the county, and if the public facility financed by such bond resolution benefits a beneficiary county, in the office of the clerk of the governing body of the beneficiary county, and may thereupon cause to be published either electronically on the notice website of the county, and if applicable, any beneficiary county, pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or at least once in a newspaper published or circulating in the county, and if applicable, any beneficiary county, a notice stating the fact and date of such adoption and the places where such bond resolution has been so filed for public inspection and also the date of the first publication of such notice and also stating that any action or proceeding of any kind or nature in any court questioning the validity or proper authorization of bonds provided for by the bond resolution, or the validity of any covenants, agreements or contracts provided for by the bond resolution shall be commenced within 20 days after the first publication of such notice.  If any such notice shall at any time be published and if no action or proceeding questioning the validity or proper authorization of bonds provided for by the bond resolution referred to in said notice, or the validity of any covenants, agreements or contracts provided for by said bond resolution shall be commenced or instituted within 20 days after the first publication of said notice, then all residents and taxpayers and owners of property in the county and, if applicable, any beneficiary county and all other persons shall be forever barred and foreclosed from instituting or commencing any action or proceeding in any court, or from pleading any defense to any action or proceeding, questioning the validity or proper authorization of such bonds, or the validity of such covenants, agreements or contracts, and said bonds, covenants, agreements and contracts shall be conclusively deemed to be valid and binding obligations in accordance with their terms and tenor.

(cf: P.L.1994, c.76, s.6)

 

     20.  Section 30 of P.L.1960, c.183 (C.40:37A-73) is amended to read as follows:

     30.  Each authority shall cause notice of the filing of a declaration of taking of property as provided in [this act] P.L.1960, c.183 (C.40:37A-44 et seq.) and of the making of the deposit required by [this act] P.L.1960, c.183 (C.40:37A-44 et seq.) with respect thereto to be served upon each party to the action to fix the compensation to be paid who resides in the State, either personally or by leaving a copy thereof at his residence if known, and upon each such party who resides out of the State, by mailing a copy thereof to him at his residence if known.  In the event that the residence of any such party or the name of such party is unknown, such notice shall be published either electronically on the notice website of the county or counties in which the property is located pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L. , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or at least once in a newspaper published or circulating in the county or counties in which the property is located.  Such service, mailing or publication shall be made within 30 days after filing such declaration.  Upon the application of any party in  interest and after notice to other parties in interest, including the  authority, the Superior Court may direct that the money deposited with the  Clerk of the Superior Court or any part thereof be paid forthwith to the person  or persons entitled thereto for or on account of the just compensation to be  awarded in said action, provided that each such person shall have filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court a consent in writing that, in the event the  award in the said action shall be less than the amount deposited, the court, after such notice as the court prescribes and hearing, may determine his liability, if any, for the return of the difference or any part thereof and enter judgment therefor.  If the amount of the award as finally determined shall exceed the amount so deposited, the person or persons to whom the award is payable shall be entitled to recover from the authority the difference between the amount of the deposit and the amount of the award, with interest at the rate of 6% per annum thereon from the date of making the deposit.  If the  amount of the award as so determined shall be less than the amount so deposited, the Clerk of the Superior Court shall return the difference between the amount of the award and the deposit to the authority unless the deposit or any part thereof shall have theretofore been distributed, in which event the court, on application of the authority and notice to all persons interested in the award and affording them an opportunity to be heard, shall enter judgment in favor of the authority for the difference against the party or parties liable for the return thereof.

(cf: P.L.1960, c.183, s.30)

 

     21.  R.S.40:53-2 is amended to read as follows:

     40:53-2.  All ordinances or other public notices which any municipality, except cities, may be required by any law to publish, where the manner of publication is not otherwise specifically provided for, shall be published either electronically on the notice website of the municipality or applicable county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or in at least one newspaper published and circulating in the municipality, and if there be no such newspaper, then in at least one newspaper published in the county in which the municipality is located and circulating in the municipality.

(cf: R.S.40:53-2)

 

     22.  Section 6 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-10) is amended to read as follows:

     6.  Hearings.  a.  The municipal agency shall hold a hearing on each application for development, adoption, revision or amendment of the master plan, each application for approval of an outdoor advertising sign submitted to the municipal agency as required pursuant to an ordinance adopted under subsection g. of section 29.1 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-39) or any review undertaken by a planning board pursuant to section 22 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-31).

     b.    The municipal agency shall make the rules governing such  hearings. Any maps and documents for which approval is sought at a hearing shall be on file and available for public inspection at least 10 days before the date of the hearing, during normal business hours in the office of the administrative officer.  The applicant may produce other documents, records, or testimony at the hearing to substantiate or clarify or supplement the previously filed maps and documents.

     c.     The officer presiding at the hearing or such person as he may designate shall have power to administer oaths and issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of relevant evidence, including witnesses and documents presented by the parties, and the provisions of the "County and Municipal Investigations Law," P.L.1953, c.38 (C.2A:67A-1 et seq.) shall apply.

     d.    The testimony of all witnesses relating to an application for development shall be taken under oath or affirmation by the presiding officer, and the right of cross-examination shall be permitted to all interested parties through their attorneys, if represented, or directly, if not represented, subject to the discretion of the presiding officer and to reasonable limitations as to time and number of witnesses.

     e.     Technical rules of evidence shall not be applicable to the hearing, but the agency may exclude irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitious evidence.

     f.     The municipal agency shall provide for the verbatim recording of the proceedings by either stenographer, mechanical or electronic means.  The municipal agency shall furnish a transcript, or duplicate recording in lieu thereof, on request to any interested party at his expense; provided that the governing body may provide by ordinance for the municipality to assume the expense of any transcripts necessary for appeal to the governing body, pursuant to section 8 of [this act] P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-17), of decisions by the zoning board of adjustment pursuant to subsection [57d.] d. of [this act] section 57 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-70), up to a maximum amount as specified by the ordinance.

     The municipal agency, in furnishing a transcript or tape of the proceedings to an interested party at his expense, shall not charge such interested party more than the actual cost of preparing the transcript or tape.  Transcripts shall be certified in writing by the transcriber to be accurate.

     g.    The municipal agency shall include findings of fact and conclusions based thereon in each decision on any application for development and shall reduce the decision to writing.  The municipal agency shall provide the findings and conclusions through:

     (1)   A resolution adopted at a meeting held within the time period provided in the act for action by the municipal agency on the application for development; or

     (2)   A memorializing resolution adopted at a meeting held not later than 45 days after the date of the meeting at which the municipal agency voted to grant or deny approval.  Only the members of the municipal agency who voted for the action taken may vote on the memorializing resolution, and the vote of a majority of such members present at the meeting at which the resolution is presented for adoption shall be sufficient to adopt the resolution.  If only one member who voted for the action attends the meeting at which the resolution is presented for adoption, the resolution may be adopted upon the vote of that member.  An action pursuant to section 5 of [the act] P.L. 1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-9) (resulting from the failure of a motion to approve an application) shall be memorialized by resolution as provided above, with those members voting against the motion for approval being the members eligible to vote on the memorializing resolution.  The vote on any such resolution shall be deemed to be a memorialization of the action of the municipal agency and not to be an action of the municipal agency; however, the date of the adoption of the resolution shall constitute the date of the decision for purposes of the mailings, filings and publications required by subsections h. and i. of this section (C.40:55D-10).  If the municipal agency fails to adopt a resolution or memorializing resolution as hereinabove specified, any interested party may apply to the Superior Court in a summary manner for an order compelling the municipal agency to reduce its findings and conclusions to writing within a stated time, and the cost of the application, including attorney's fees, shall be assessed against the municipality.

     h.    A copy of the decision shall be mailed by the municipal agency within 10 days of the date of decision to the applicant or, if represented, then to his attorney, without separate charge, and to all who request a copy of the decision, for a reasonable fee.  A copy of the decision shall also be filed by the municipal agency in the office of the administrative officer.  The administrative officer shall make a copy of such filed decision available to any interested party for a reasonable fee and available for public inspection at his office during reasonable hours.

     i.     A brief notice of the decision shall be published either (1) electronically on the notice website of the municipality or applicable county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or (2) in the official newspaper of the municipality, if there be one, or in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality.  Such publication shall be arranged by the applicant unless a particular municipal officer is so designated by ordinance; provided that nothing contained in [this act] P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-1 et seq.) shall be construed as preventing the applicant from arranging such publication if he so desires.  The municipality may make a reasonable charge for its publication.  The period of time in which an appeal of the decision may be made shall run from the first publication of the decision, whether arranged by the municipality or the applicant.

(cf: P.L.2004, c.42, s.5)

 

     23.  Section 5 of P.L.1985, c.516 (C.40:55D-10.4) is amended to read as follows:

     5.  An applicant shall comply with the provisions of this section whenever the applicant wishes to claim approval of his application for development by reason of the failure of the municipal agency to grant or deny approval within the time period provided in the "Municipal Land Use Law," P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-1 et seq.) or any supplement thereto.

     a.  The applicant shall provide notice of the default approval to the municipal agency and to all those entitled to notice by personal service or certified mail of the hearing on the application for development; but for purposes of determining who is entitled to notice, the hearing on the application for development shall be deemed to have required public notice pursuant to subsection a. of section 7.1 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-12).

     b.  The applicant shall arrange publication of a notice of the default approval either (1) electronically on the notice website of the municipality or applicable county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or (2) in the official newspaper of the municipality, if there be one, or in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality.

     c.  The applicant shall file an affidavit of proof of service and publication with the administrative officer, who in the case of a minor subdivision or final approval of a major subdivision, shall be the officer who issues certificates pursuant to section 35, subsection b. of section 38 or subsection c. of section 63 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-47; C.40:55D-50; C.40:55D-76), as the case may be.

(cf: P.L.1985, c.516, s.5)

 

     24.  Section 7.1 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-12) is amended to read as follows:

     7.1.  Notice pursuant to subsections a., b., d., e., f., g. and h. of this section shall be given by the applicant unless a particular municipal officer is so designated by ordinance; provided that nothing contained herein shall prevent the applicant from giving such notice if he so desires.  Notice pursuant to subsections a., b., d., e., f., g. and h. of this section shall be given at least 10 days prior to the date of the hearing.

     a.     Public notice of a hearing shall be given for an extension of approvals for five or more years under subsection d. of section 37 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-49) and subsection b. of section 40 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-52); for modification or elimination of a significant condition or conditions in a memorializing resolution in any situation wherein the application for development for which the memorializing resolution is proposed for adoption required public notice, and for any other applications for development, with the following exceptions: (1) conventional site plan review pursuant to section 34 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-46), (2) minor subdivisions pursuant to section 35 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-47) or (3) final approval pursuant to section 38 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-50); notwithstanding the foregoing, the governing body may by ordinance require public notice for such categories of site plan review as may be specified by ordinance, for appeals of determinations of administrative officers pursuant to subsection a. of section 57 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-70), and for requests for interpretation pursuant to subsection b. of section 57 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-70).  Public notice shall also be given in the event that relief is requested pursuant to section 47 or 63 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-60 or C.40:55D-76) as part of an application for development otherwise excepted herein from public notice.

     In addition, public notice shall be given by a public entity seeking to erect an outdoor advertising sign on land owned or controlled by a public entity as required pursuant to section 22 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-31) or, if so provided by ordinance adopted pursuant to subsection g. of section 29.1 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-39), by a private entity seeking to erect an outdoor advertising sign on public land or on land owned by a private entity.

     Public notice shall be given by publication either electronically on the notice website of the municipality or applicable county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L. , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or in the official newspaper of the municipality, if there be one, or in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality.

     b.    Except as provided in paragraph (2) of subsection h. of this section, notice of a hearing requiring public notice pursuant to subsection a. of this section shall be given to the owners of all real property as shown on the current tax duplicates, located in the State and within 200 feet in all directions of the property which is the subject of such hearing; provided that this requirement shall be deemed satisfied by notice to the (1) condominium association, in the case of any unit owner whose unit has a unit above or below it, or (2) horizontal property regime, in the case of any co-owner whose apartment has an apartment above or below it.  Notice shall be given by: (1) serving a copy thereof on the property owner as shown on the said current tax duplicate, or his agent in charge of the property, or (2) mailing a copy thereof by certified mail to the property owner at his address as shown on the said current tax duplicate.

     Notice to a partnership owner may be made by service upon any partner.  Notice to a corporate owner may be made by service upon its president, a vice president, secretary or other person authorized by appointment or by law to accept service on behalf of the corporation.  Notice to a condominium association, horizontal property regime, community trust or homeowners' association, because of its ownership of common elements or areas located within 200 feet of the property which is the subject of the hearing, may be made in the same manner as to a corporation without further notice to unit owners, co-owners, or homeowners on account of such common elements or areas.

     c.     Upon the written request of an applicant, the administrative officer of a municipality shall, within seven days, make and certify a list from said current tax duplicates of names and addresses of owners to whom the applicant is required to give notice pursuant to subsection b. of this section.  In addition, the administrative officer shall include on the list the names, addresses and positions of those persons who, not less than seven days prior to the date on which the applicant requested the list, have registered to receive notice pursuant to subsection h. of this section.  The applicant shall be entitled to rely upon the information contained in such list, and failure to give notice to any owner, to any public utility, cable television company, or local utility or to any military facility commander not on the list shall not invalidate any hearing or proceeding.  A sum not to exceed $0.25 per name, or $10.00, whichever is greater, may be charged for such list.

     d.    Notice of hearings on applications for development involving property located within 200 feet of an adjoining municipality shall be given by personal service or certified mail to the clerk of such municipality.

     e.     Notice shall be given by personal service or certified mail to the county planning board of a hearing on an application for development of property adjacent to an existing county road or proposed road shown on the official county map or on the county master plan, adjoining other county land or situated within 200 feet of a municipal boundary.

     f.     Notice shall be given by personal service or certified mail to the Commissioner of Transportation of a hearing on an application for development of property adjacent to a State highway.

     g.    Notice shall be given by personal service or certified mail to the State Planning Commission of a hearing on an application for development of property which exceeds 150 acres or 500 dwelling units.  The notice shall include a copy of any maps or documents required to be on file with the municipal clerk pursuant to subsection b. of section 6 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-10).

     h.    Notice of hearings on applications for approval of a major subdivision or a site plan not defined as a minor site plan under [this act] P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-1 et seq.) requiring public notice pursuant to subsection a. of this section shall be given: (1) in the case of a public utility, cable television company or local utility which possesses a right-of-way or easement within the municipality and which has registered with the municipality in accordance with section 5 of P.L.1991, c.412 (C.40:55D-12.1), by (I) serving a copy of the notice on the person whose name appears on the registration form on behalf of the public utility, cable television company or local utility or (ii) mailing a copy thereof by certified mail to the person whose name appears on the registration form at the address shown on that form; (2) in the case of a military facility which has registered with the municipality and which is situated within 3,000 feet in all directions of the property which is the subject of the hearing, by (I) serving a copy of the notice on the military facility commander whose name appears on the registration form or (ii) mailing a copy thereof by certified mail to the military facility commander at the address shown on that form.

     i.     The applicant shall file an affidavit of proof of service with the municipal agency holding the hearing on the application for development in the event that the applicant is required to give notice pursuant to this section.

     j.     Notice pursuant to subsections d., e., f., g. and h. of this section shall not be deemed to be required, unless public notice pursuant to subsection a. and notice pursuant to subsection b. of this section are required.

(cf: P.L.2005, c.41, s.3)

 

     25.  Section 7.2 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-13) is amended to read as follows:

     7.2.  Notice concerning master plan.  The planning board shall give:

     (1)   Public notice of a hearing on adoption, revision or amendment of the master plan; such notice shall be given by publication (a) either electronically on the notice website of the municipality or applicable county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or (b) in the official newspaper of the municipality, if there be one, or in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality at least 10 days prior to the date of the hearing;

     (2)   Notice by personal service or certified mail to the clerk of an adjoining municipality of all hearings on adoption, revision or amendment of a master plan involving property situated within 200 feet of such adjoining municipality at least 10 days prior to the date of any such hearing;

     (3)   Notice by personal service or certified mail to the Office of Planning Advocacy and to the county planning board in which the municipality is situated, of (a) all hearings on the adoption, revision or amendment of the municipal master plan at least 10 days prior to the date of the hearing; such notice shall include a copy of any such proposed master plan, or any revision or amendment thereto; and (b) the adoption, revision or amendment of the master plan not more than 30 days after the date of such adoption, revision or amendment; such notice shall include a copy of the master plan or revision or amendment thereto;

     (4)   Notice by personal service or certified mail to the military facility commander of a military facility which has registered with the municipality pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2005, c.41 (C.40:55D-12.4) of (a) all hearings on the adoption, revision, or amendment of the municipal master plan at least 10 days prior to the date of the hearing; such notice shall include a copy of any such proposed master plan, or any revision or amendment thereto; and (b) the adoption, revision, or amendment of the master plan not more than 30 days after the date of such adoption, revision, or amendment; such notice shall include a copy of the master plan or revision or amendment thereto.

(cf: P.L.2016, c.21, s.3)

 

     26.  Section 8 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-17) is amended to read as follows:

     8.  Appeal to the governing body; time; notice; modification; stay of proceedings.  a.  Any interested party may appeal to the governing body any final decision of a board of adjustment approving an application for development pursuant to subsection d. of section 57 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-70), if so permitted by ordinance.  Such appeal shall be made within 10 days of the date of publication of such final decision pursuant to subsection i. of section 6 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-10).  In the case of any board established pursuant to article 10 of P.L.1975, c.291, the governing body of the municipality in which the land is situated shall be the "governing body" for purposes of this section.  The appeal to the governing body shall be made by serving the municipal clerk in person or by certified mail with a notice of appeal, specifying the grounds thereof and the name and address of the appellant and name and address of his attorney, if represented.  Such appeal shall be decided by the governing body only upon the record established before the board of adjustment.

     b.  Notice of the meeting to review the record below shall be given by the governing body by personal service or certified mail to the appellant, to those entitled to notice of a decision pursuant to subsection h. of section 6 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-10) and to the board from which the appeal is taken, at least 10 days prior to the date of the meeting.  The parties may submit oral and written argument on the record at such meeting, and the governing body shall provide for verbatim recording and transcripts of such meeting pursuant to subsection f. of section 6 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-10).

     c.  The appellant shall, (1) within five days of service of the notice of the appeal pursuant to subsection a. hereof, arrange for a transcript pursuant to subsection f. of section 6 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-10) for use by the governing body and pay a deposit of $50.00 or the estimated cost of such transcript, whichever is less, or (2) within 35 days of service of the notice of appeal, submit a transcript as otherwise arranged to the municipal clerk; otherwise, the appeal may be dismissed for failure to prosecute.

     The governing body shall conclude a review of the record below not later than 95 days from the date of publication of notice of the decision below pursuant to subsection i. of section 6 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-10), unless the applicant consents in writing to an extension of such period. Failure of the governing body to hold a hearing and conclude a review of the record below and to render a decision within such specified period shall constitute a decision affirming the action of the board.

     d.  The governing body may reverse, remand, or affirm with or without the imposition of conditions the final decision of the board of adjustment approving a variance pursuant to subsection d. of section 57 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-70).  The review shall be made on the record made before the board of adjustment.

     e.  The affirmative vote of a majority of the full authorized membership of the governing body shall be necessary to reverse or remand to the board of adjustment or to impose conditions on or alter conditions to any final action of the board of adjustment.  Otherwise the final action of the board of adjustment shall be deemed to be affirmed; a tie vote of the governing body shall constitute affirmance of the decision of the board of adjustment.

     f.  An appeal to the governing body shall stay all proceedings in furtherance of the action in respect to which the decision appealed from was made, unless the board from whose action the appeal is taken certifies to the governing body, after the notice of appeal shall have been filed with such board, that by reason of facts stated in the certificate, a stay would, in its opinion, cause imminent peril to life or property.  In such case, proceedings shall not be stayed other than by an order of the Superior Court on application upon notice to the board from whom the appeal is taken and on good cause shown.

     g.  The governing body shall mail a copy of the decision to the appellant or, if represented, then to his attorney, without separate charge, and for a reasonable charge to any interested party who has requested it, not later than 10 days after the date of the decision.  A brief notice of the decision shall be published either (1) electronically on the notice website of the municipality or applicable county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or (2) in the official newspaper of the municipality, if there be one, or in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality.  Such publication shall be arranged by the applicant unless a particular municipal officer is so designated by ordinance; provided that nothing contained herein shall be construed as preventing the applicant from arranging such publication if he so desires.  The governing body may make a reasonable charge for its publication.  The period of time in which an appeal to a court of competent jurisdiction may be made shall run from the first publication, whether arranged by the municipality or the applicant.

     h.  Nothing in [this act] P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-1 et seq.) shall be construed to restrict the right of any party to obtain a review by any court of competent jurisdiction, according to law.

(cf: P.L.1991, c.256, s.3)

 

     27.  Section 17 of P.L.1985, c.516 (C.40:55D-85.1) is amended to read as follows:

     17.  a.  In the case of any final decision of a regional planning board or regional zoning board of adjustment approving an application for development, the governing body of the municipality in which the land is situated which is the subject of the application for development may hear and decide an appeal by any interested party of this approval if the application for development is of a class of applications for development specified by ordinance as so subject to appeal.  The appeal shall be made within 10 days of the date of publication of the final decision pursuant to subsection i. of section 6 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-10).  The appeal to the governing body shall be made by serving the municipal clerk in person or by certified mail with a notice of appeal specifying the grounds thereof and the name and address of the appellant and name and address of his attorney, if represented.  The appeal shall be decided by the governing body only upon the record established before the regional board.

     b.  Notice of the meeting to review the record below shall be given by the governing body by personal service or certified mail to the appellant, to those entitled to notice of a decision pursuant to subsection h. of section 6 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-10) and to the board from which the appeal is taken, at least 10 days prior to the date of the meeting.  The parties may submit oral and written argument on the record at the meeting, and the governing body shall provide for verbatim recording and transcripts of the meeting pursuant to subsection f. of section 6 of P.L.1975, c.291 [(C.40:55D-10.)] (C.40:55D-10).

     c.  The appellant shall, (1) within five days of service of the notice of the appeal pursuant to subsection a. hereof, arrange for a transcript pursuant to subsection f. of section 6 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-10) for use by the governing body and pay a deposit of $50.00 or the estimated cost of such transcription, whichever is less, or (2) within 35 days of service of the notice of appeal, submit a transcript as otherwise arranged to the municipal clerk; otherwise, the appeal may be dismissed for failure to prosecute.

      The governing body shall conclude a review of the record not later than 95 days from the date of publication of notice of the decision below pursuant to subsection i. of section 6 of P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-10) unless the applicant consents in writing to an extension of the period. Failure of the governing body to hold a hearing and conclude a review of the record below and to render a decision within the specified period shall constitute a decision affirming the action of the board.

     d.  The governing body may reverse, remand, or affirm with or without the imposition of conditions the final decision of the regional board.

     e.  The affirmative vote of a majority of the full authorized membership of the governing body shall be necessary to reverse, remand, or affirm with or without conditions any final action of the regional board.

     f.  An appeal to the governing body shall stay all proceedings in furtherance of the action in respect to which the decision appealed from was made unless the board from whose action the appeal is taken certifies to the governing body, after the notice of appeal shall have been filed with the board, that by reason of acts stated in the certificate a stay would, in its opinion, cause imminent peril to life or property.  In such case, proceedings shall not be stayed other than by an order of the Superior Court on application upon notice to the board from whom the appeal is taken and on good cause shown.

     g.  The governing body shall mail a copy of the decision to the appellant or if represented then to his attorney, without separate charge, and for a reasonable charge to any interested party who has requested it, not later than 10 days after the date of the decision.  A brief notice of the decision shall be published either (1) electronically on the notice website of the municipality or applicable county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or (2) in the official newspaper of the municipality, if there is one, or in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality.  The publication shall be arranged by the applicant unless a particular municipal officer is so designated by ordinance; but nothing contained herein shall be construed as preventing the applicant from arranging the publication if he so desires.  The governing body may make a reasonable charge for its publication.  The period of time in which an appeal to a court of competent jurisdiction may be made shall run from the first publication, whether arranged by the municipality or the applicant.

     h.  Nothing in this act shall be construed to restrict the right of any party to obtain a review by any court of competent jurisdiction according to law.

(cf: P.L.1985, c.516, s.17)

 

     28.  N.J.S.40A:2-30 is amended to read as follows:

     40A:2-30.  a.  A notice of public sale of bonds containing the provisions described in subsection a. of N.J.S.40A:2-31 shall be advertised at least once at least seven days prior thereto either (1) by electronic publication on the notice website of the applicable government agency pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or (2) by publication in a newspaper qualified for publication of a bond ordinance of the local unit.  A summary of the notice of public sale of bonds as provided for in subsection b. of N.J.S.40A:2-31 shall be advertised at least once at least seven days prior thereto in a nationally recognized local government bond marketing publication or electronic information service carrying municipal bond notices and devoted primarily to financial news or the subject of state and municipal bonds.

     b.    The governing body, may, by resolution, allow or otherwise delegate to a finance officer the authority to postpone a public sale without readvertisement provided that the notice pursuant to subsection a. of this section contained precise information concerning the postponement and rescheduling procedure.  The postponement and rescheduling procedure shall provide that a public sale may be postponed upon not less than 24 hours' notice, and that if the public sale is postponed, it may be recommenced upon not less than 48 hours' notice without further notice of sale.  A public sale may not be postponed for more than 60 days without readvertisement.

(cf: P.L.2003, c.15, s.6)

 

     29.  Section 5 of P.L.1999, c.440 (C.40A:11-4.5) is amended to read as follows:

     5.    Competitive contracting proposals shall be solicited in the following manner:

     a.     A notice of the availability of request for proposal documentation shall be published either (1) electronically on the notice website of the contracting unit or applicable municipality or county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or (2) in an official newspaper of the contracting unit at least 20 days prior to the date established for the submission of proposals.  The contracting unit shall promptly reply to any request by an interested vendor by providing a copy of the request for proposals.  The contracting unit may charge a fee for the proposal documentation that shall not exceed $50.00 or the cost of reproducing the documentation, whichever is greater.

     b.    Each interested vendor shall submit a proposal which shall include all the information required by the request for proposals.  Failure to meet the requirements of the request for proposals may result in the contracting unit disqualifying the vendor from further consideration.  Under no circumstances shall the provisions of a proposal be subject to negotiation by the contracting unit.

     c.     If the contracting unit, at the time of solicitation, utilizes its own employees to provide the goods or perform the services, or both, considered for competitive contracting, the governing body shall, at any time prior to, but no later than the time of solicitation for competitive contracting proposals, notify affected employees of the governing body's intention to solicit competitive contracting proposals.  Employees or their representatives shall be permitted to submit recommendations and proposals affecting wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment in such a manner as to meet the goals of the competitive contract.  If employees are represented by an organization that has negotiated a contract with the contracting unit, only the bargaining unit shall be authorized to submit such recommendations or proposals.  When requested by such employees, the governing body shall provide such information regarding budgets and the costs of performing the services by such employees as may be available.  Nothing shall prevent such employees from making recommendations that may include modifications to existing labor agreements in order to reduce such costs in lieu of award of a competitive contract, and agreements implementing such recommendations may be considered as cause for rejecting all other proposals.

     d.    The purchasing agent or counsel or administrator shall evaluate all proposals only in accordance with the methodology described in the request for proposals.  After proposals have been evaluated, the purchasing agent or counsel or administrator shall prepare a report evaluating and recommending the award of a contract or contracts.  The report shall list the names of all potential vendors who submitted a proposal and shall summarize the proposals of each vendor.  The report shall rank vendors in order of evaluation, shall recommend the selection of a vendor or vendors, as appropriate, for a contract, shall be clear in the reasons why the vendor or vendors have been selected among others considered, and shall detail the terms, conditions, scope of services, fees, and other matters to be incorporated into a contract.  The report shall be made available to the public at least 48 hours prior to the awarding of the contract, or when made available to the governing body, whichever is sooner.  The governing body shall have the right to reject all proposals for any of the reasons set forth in section 21 of P.L.1999, c.440 (C.40A:11-13.2).

     e.     Award of a contract shall be made by resolution of the governing body of the contracting unit within 60 days of the receipt of the proposals, except that the proposals of any vendors who consent thereto, may, at the request of the contracting unit, be held for consideration for such longer period as may be agreed.

     f.     The report prepared pursuant to subsection d. of this section shall become part of the public record and shall reflect the final action of the governing body.  Contracts shall be executed pursuant to section 14 of P.L.1971, c.198 (C.40A:11-14).

     g.    The clerk or secretary of the contracting unit shall publish a notice either (1) electronically on the notice website of the contracting unit or applicable municipality or county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or (2) in the official newspaper of the contracting unit summarizing the award of a contract, which shall include but not be limited to, the nature, duration, and amount of the contract, the name of the vendor and a statement that the resolution and contract are on file and available for public inspection in the office of the clerk or secretary of the municipality, county, local public authority or special district of the governing body.

     h.    All contract awards shall be subject to rules concerning certification of availability of funds adopted pursuant to section 3 of P.L.1971, c.198 (C.40A:11-3) and section 15 of P.L.1971, c.198 (C.40A:11-15).

     i.     The director, after consultation with the Commissioner of Education, may adopt additional rules and regulations, in accordance with the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), as may be necessary to effectuate the provisions of sections 1 through 5 of P.L.1999, c.440 (C.40A:11-4.1 through C.40A:11-4.5).

(cf: P.L.1999, c.440, s.5)

 

     30.  Section 23 of P.L.1971, c.198 (C.40A:11-23) is amended to read as follows:

     23.  a.  All advertisements for bids shall be published either electronically on the notice website of the contracting unit or applicable municipality or county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or in an official newspaper of the contracting unit sufficiently in advance of the date fixed for receiving the bids to promote competitive bidding, but in no event less than 10 days prior to such date; except that all advertisements for bids on contracts for the collection and disposal of municipal solid waste shall be published either electronically on the notice website of the contracting unit or applicable municipality or county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L. , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or in an official newspaper of the contracting unit circulating in the county or municipality, and in at least one newspaper of general circulation published in the State, sufficiently in advance of the date fixed for receiving the bids to promote competitive bidding, but not less than 60 days prior to that date.  For all contracts, the date fixed for receiving the bids shall not fall on a Monday, or any day directly following a State or federal holiday.

     b.    The advertisement shall designate the manner of submitting and the method of receiving the bids and the time and place at which the bids will be received.  If the published specifications provide for receipt of bids by mail, those bids which are mailed to the contracting unit shall be sealed and shall only be opened for examination at such time and place as all bids received are unsealed and announced.  At such time and place the contracting agent of the contracting unit shall publicly receive the bids, and thereupon immediately proceed to unseal them and publicly announce the contents, which announcement shall be made in the presence of any parties bidding or their agents, who are then and there present, and shall also make proper record of the prices and terms, upon the minutes of the governing body, if the award is to be made by the governing body of the contracting unit, or in a book kept for that purpose, if the award is to be made by other than the governing body, and in such latter case it shall be reported to the governing body of the contracting unit for its action thereon, when such action thereon is required. No bids shall be received after the time designated in the advertisement.

     c.     Notice of revisions or addenda to advertisements or bid documents shall be provided as follows:

     (1)   For all contracts except those for construction work and municipal solid waste collection and disposal service, notice shall be published no later than seven days, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays excepted, prior to the date for acceptance of bids, either electronically on the notice website of the contracting unit or applicable municipality or county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or in an official newspaper of the contracting unit and be provided to any person who has submitted a bid or who has received a bid package, in one of the following ways:  (i) in writing by certified mail or (ii) by certified facsimile transmission, meaning that the sender's facsimile machine produces a receipt showing date and time of transmission and that the transmission was successful or (iii) by a delivery service that provides certification of delivery to the sender.

     (2)   For all contracts for construction work, notice shall be provided no later than seven days, Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays excepted, prior to the date for acceptance of bids, to any person who has submitted a bid or who has received a bid package in any of the following ways: (i) in writing by certified mail or (ii) by certified facsimile transmission, meaning that the sender's facsimile machine produces a receipt showing date and time of transmission and that the transmission was successful or (iii) by a delivery service that provides certification of delivery to the sender.

     (3)   For municipal solid waste collection and disposal contracts, notice shall be published either electronically on the notice website of the contracting unit or applicable municipality or county pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L. , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or in an official newspaper of the contracting unit and in at least one newspaper of general circulation published in the State no later than seven days, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays excepted, prior to the date for acceptance of bids.

     d.    Failure of the contracting unit to advertise for the receipt of bids or to provide proper notification of revisions or addenda to advertisements or bid documents related to bids as prescribed by this section shall prevent the contracting unit from accepting the bids and require the readvertisement for bids pursuant to subsection a. of this section.  Failure to obtain a receipt when good faith notice is sent or delivered to the address or telephone facsimile number on file with the contracting unit shall not be considered failure by the contracting unit to provide notice.

(cf: P.L.2007, c.4, s.1)

 

     31.  R.S.56:3-17 is amended to read as follows:

     56:3-17.  Any person or corporation seeking to register names, marks or other devices under authority of this article shall first cause the description mentioned in [section 56:3-16 of this title] R.S.56:3-16 to be [printed] published either electronically on the notice website of the county in which such description may be filed as provided by R.S.56:3-16 pursuant to the “Electronic Publication of Legal Notices Act,” P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or once in each week, for two weeks successively, in a newspaper published in the county in which such description may be filed as provided by [said section 56:3-16] R.S.56:3-16.

(cf: R.S.56:3-17)

 

     32.  Sections 1 through 3 of P.L.2002, c.91 (C.10:4-9.1 through C.10:4-9.2) are repealed.

 

     33.  This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would allow government agencies and persons to publish legal notices on official government notice websites instead of in newspapers.  Permitting the publication of legal notices on the Internet instead of in newspapers will make these notices more easily accessible to the public, thereby promoting transparency and increased public participation in government, while also saving government agencies and persons significant sums of money.

     The bill permits the electronic publication of legal notices in every instance in which the law requires newspaper publication.  This option would be available with respect to a government agency if the government agency has, for a three month period beginning on or after the enactment date, published all legal notices both on its official website and in newspapers and provided notice both on its official website and in newspapers that the government agency may exclusively publish legal notices electronically going forward.

     A government agency that meets these requirements and elects to exclusively publish legal notices electronically would also have to create a notice website on which the required legal notices would be electronically published.  A notice website created under the bill would have to be an index webpage containing a list of all current legal notices relating to the government agency, with links to the full text of those notices, not just summaries of the notices.

     Such government agency would further have to designate officials to be responsible for these electronic publications, and to serve as contact persons who handle the intake and processing of electronic publication requests made by persons.  The government agency would also be required to receive and review any complaints with respect to electronically published legal notices, which complaints would have to be made available for public inspection.

     Whenever a legal notice that has been electronically published pursuant to the bill is inaccessible for 25 percent or more of the publication timeframe provided by law, the legal notice would have to be electronically published for the entirety of that timeframe beginning anew from the day on which access to the notice is restored, and the action for which the legal notice is required would be delayed accordingly.

     The Office of Information Technology would be required to, on or before the first day of the third month following the effective date of the bill, establish on the State Internet website a webpage that would contain a directory of all government agency notice websites.  The office would also have to, within that same timeframe, establish a link to the directory webpage that is prominently displayed on the home webpage of the State Internet website.  The office would further be responsible for continuously maintaining the directory webpage and for updating the directory webpage to include the notice website of a government agency within 10 days after receiving notice from the government agency that it has created a notice website.

     Savings that a local government agency realizes from publishing legal notices electronically instead of in newspapers pursuant to the bill would have to be used solely and exclusively to reduce the amount required to be raised by the local property tax levy.

     The bill amends several sections of current law requiring notices to be published in newspapers in order to further clarify that these notices may be published electronically instead of in a newspaper.  Although the bill does not amend every statute with a legal notice newspaper publication requirement, the amended statutes account for the vast majority of the legal notices published in newspapers, and therefore warrant further clarity on the availability of the option to publish electronically.  The bill’s general provisions allowing for the electronic publication of legal notices would still apply to all other sections of law with legal notice newspaper publication requirements, but which are not amended by the bill to reflect the availability of the electronic publication option.

     This bill would not affect existing notice content and publication timeframes, which would still apply to any legal notices that are electronically published.  The bill would also not affect the ability of government agencies and persons to opt to meet legal notice publication requirements through newspaper publication as set forth under current law.

     On or before the first day of the third month following the effective date of the bill, the Chief Technology Officer of the Office of Information Technology, in consultation with the Director of the Division of Local Government Services, would have to promulgate rules and regulations to effectuate the bill.