More on the Modern Day Founding of New Milford
Journeys into New Milford
This year marks 100 years since the establishment of the modern day New Milford.
Here is a little of the historical foundation that led to that event, courtesy of The Stories of New Milford, 100 Years, 1922-2022; Borough of New Milford:
".....To get to the 100th anniversary, let’s fast forward through history to
Bergen County in the late 1800s. Today, the county includes 56 boroughs
among its 70 municipalities. The reason is due in part to schools and taxes
— and the railroad".
"In the late 19th century, Bergen County, like
much of New Jersey, was divided into large
townships. As the railroad was built, commuter
suburbs formed around railroad stations. Tensions
arose between the growing number of commuters, who
wanted more government services for the new
developments, and long-time residents, such as selfsufficient farmers, who didn’t want to pay taxes for
services they wouldn’t use."
A previously little-used law permitted small
segments of existing townships to vote by referendum
to form independent boroughs. Commuters took
advantage of that law. Another law consolidated
school districts into one per municipality. That
made it easier for dissatisfied communities to form
boroughs, to gain a seat on the county board and to
keep control of local schools.
Between 1894 and 1895, 40 out of the 70
municipalities in Bergen County were formed. The state, seeing that
“boroughitis” was getting out of hand, closed the loophole in the law.
Boroughs could still be formed, but the process was controlled by the state
New Milford was part of Palisades Township, which extended from the
Hackensack River east to the Hudson River. When “boroughitis” hit, Tenafly,
Bergenfield and others broke away. By 1922, the last remaining
unincorporated areas of the township were in what we now know as New
Milford. On March 11, 1922, the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly
introduced “An Act to Incorporate the Borough of New Milford, in the County
of Bergen.” However, the legislation could not be enacted without voter
approval. On April 18, 1922, residents voted 280 to 36 to incorporate as a
borough, effectively putting an end to Palisades Township.
Then, according to New Milford's 1964 book "The Story of New Milford", "...a special election" occurred on May 13, 1922, selecting the first Mayor (Carl Behrens) and six council members.
Info Sources: The Story of New Milford, New Jersey, by Leon Smith, 1964; The Stories of New Milford, 100 Years, 1922-2022; Borough of New Milford