Overview of Consolidation Laws
Intro-Local Officials | Intro-Citizens | How to Use | Community Challenge | Authors | Letter
Overview | Six Steps | Sample Timeline | One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six
Woodbridge Model | What Woodbridge Can Afford? | How Much Does Small Cost?
Glossary | Common Questions | Historic First | A Century of Support
Although New Jersey law allows at least four different ways to consolidate municipalities, this guidebook focuses on what’s called “Local Option municipal Consolidation,” a new form created by the state legislature in 2007. Before diving into the specifics of that law, it’s useful to understand the consolidation process generally.
In New Jersey, a municipal consolidation typically involves two stages: first, a committee studies a merger proposal and issues a recommendation; then, the towns vote on whether to merge. The four types of consolidation are all variations on this basic theme, with slight differences regarding the type of “study” required, the means of creating the study commission, and the method for obtaining local approval:
- Local Option Municipal Consolidation. (N.J.S.A. 40A:65-25 et seq.) This is the focus of our guidebook. Under Local Option municipal Consolidation, the study is conducted by a “municipal Consolidation Study Commission,” which can be created either by voter petitions or municipal resolutions. If the commission recommends consolidation, then the participating towns can approve the merger by voter referenda and/or municipal resolutions. The process will be explained in the Six Steps to Consolidation on the following pages.
- 1977 Municipal Consolidation. (N.J.S.A. 40:43-63.35 et seq.) Although this form of consolidation is still on the books, it is widely considered cumbersome and time-consuming, and Local Option municipal Consolidation (described above) was created to simplify the process. The basic structure is the same as Local Option, but with substantially less flexibility in creating a Study Commission.
- Sparsely populated Municipal Consolidation. (N.J.S.A. 40:43-66.78 et seq.) This form only applies to consolidations where one of the municipalities contains fewer than 500 residents. The requirement for an expert study is waived. The larger town can absorb the smaller one through voter referenda or municipal resolutions.
- “LUARCC” Consolidation. (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-501 et seq.) Created in 2007, this form of consolidation involves a state entity called the Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization, and Consolidation Commission (“LUARCC”). Rather than having local towns initiate their own study commissions, the LUARCC studies consolidation on a statewide level and identifies municipalities that would make logical merger candidates. LUARCC then submits the list of identified towns to the state legislature. Upon approval, the municipalities are required to hold consolidation referenda.