The appellate court upheld the rights of the Newfield Borough Council to hire/fire the chief of the volunteer fire company; to look at their finances (even though they don't receive money from the Borough); to decide membership qualifications; to decide what the volunteer organization's by-laws should be; and more.
Legally, this means that since the membership did not go along with with the Council's decision to fire the fire chief, the Newfield Volunteer Fire Company is no longer allowed to respond to fires or other emergencies in Newfield. The Malaga Volunteer Fire Company is now responsible; Malaga's fire house is several miles away.
If this rift between the local government body and the fire company were just an isolated incident in Newfield, NJ it would be bad enough but in the whole region there are legal battles being waged between the local governments and the fire companies and/or the local police departments. I have no clue what is this is a symptom of, but it isn't healthy. From my limited perspective it seems as if egos and male preening are fueling the battles with a great loss to the local communities. And, if I was a "twenty/thirty-something" wanting to get involved and support the community where I and/or my young family lived, I would decide not to and even consider moving away.
And, as I have fretted before, if they can legally to this to one volunteer organization in town, can they do to another? The Newfield Public Library Board, which does get limited funding from the Borough Budget? The Rose Hill Cemetery Association Board, which gets no public funding? All the Borough Council has to do is write an ordinance that gives them jurisdiction and pass it. Ordinances are not referendums. They are not voted on by the town residents. Only Council members vote after non-binding comments by the public.
Well, I won't be sleeping well tonight. I certainly don't feel well served nor well protected by "my" local government. Worse part is, the "threat" I feel was not generated by the vagaries of weather nor the some terrorist group. The threat I feel is generated by my fellow townspeople. I also feel we, the current residents, have let down all the people from Newfield's founding in 1869 who gave their time, labor, and money to make Newfield a great "small" place to live. I'm sorry Mom and Dad; I'm sorry Grandpop and Grandmom, my "pen" was not mighty enough to persuade the persons involved to put their need to be "right" aside and do what was best for all the people of the town. Money spent on lawsuits since 2013 could have repaved a street badly in need of repair or more than funded Saturday hours for the Library. I failed your legacy, another reason not to sleep well.