Water Works Litigation.
An opinion has been handed down by Vice-Chancellor Walker, of New Jersey, which, besides denying the Somerville Water Company a preliminary injunction to restrain the borough of Somerville from preventing the company from laying a 36-inch main through Cliff street, raises grave questions as to the legality of the company’s incorporation and its power to operate under its charter. The vice-chancellor took the view that in any event it was the duty of the company to satisfy the inhabitants of Somerville why it proposed to lay a huge main when a pipe only a fraction of the size would supply all the likely needs of the community for a period of at least 50 years to come. From the general trend of his opinion the vice-chancellor left no doubt that in his mind there was something more in the scheme of the company than merely to supply Somerville and one or two additional municipalities with water. In any event, he said, the company must demonstrate its full legal right to lay the pipes before any injunction would lie against the municipality.
Crookston, Minn., and the Crookston Water Works, Power & Light Company, of which W. J. Murphy, of Minneapolis, is the head, are about to clash. The company has not paid a dollar of taxes since 1906, and its back taxes without penalties attached now reach the snug sum of $39,000. The trouble arose over back taxes assessed four years ago, in which the personal property assessment was materially increased, the wires, water mains, etc., being assessed back for a number of years. County Attorney Maybury, four years ago started a suit which was taken to the Supreme Court and it being about the close of his terms was allowed to drop. County Attorney Hagen did not take it up and now City Attorney Loring is about ready for action.
The Connersville, Ind., Hydraulic Company has brought suit in the circuit court to enjoin the city of Connersville from tearing down and removing the engines, boilers and pumps of the city waterworks, located on the hydraulic company’s ground, to the city’s new plant. The city formerly received its water supply through the canal maintained by the hydraulic company, and erected a pumping station on the company’s ground, the lease for which expired about 18 months ago. The hydraulic company alleges that by the terms of its lease to the city, after the expiration of the time it was to run, the buildings and pumping machinery, if not removed before, became the absolute property of the company. The president of this company is E. Dwight Johnston.
Seven municipalities and water companies of New Jersey have filed petitions for the appointment of commissioners who are to condemn and appraise the value of Paterson’s water fronts, and the same number of petitions have been field asking that commissioners be appointed to condemn the lands of the Chestnut Hill Land Company from a point along the eastwardly and southwardly banks of the river for a distance of 3,400 feet. The suits are as follows: Montclair Water Company, for the right to take 7,000,000 gallons of water from the river per day; Jersey City, for the right to take 7,000,000 gallons of water per day; Bayonne, for the right to take 8,5000.000 gallons per day; the borough of Glen Ridge, for the right to take 350,000 gallons of water per day; the town of Harrison, for the right to take 2,000,000 gallons per day. and the town of Kearny, for the right to take 2,300,000 gallons per day.