More on the Modern Day Founding of New Milford

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