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Potential Old Orchard Developer Sues Eatontown Planning Board

A complaint filed by the developer states that the board's decision to reject a Master Plan change is arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.

By Christopher Sheldon

A developer whose plans for Old Orchard Country Club have been stopped twice by the Eatontown Planning Board is now suing the board.

The complaint, filed in Monmouth County Superior Court on Dec. 19, on behalf of Eatontown Ventures LLC states that the board's decision to reject a Master Plan change during its Dec. 9 meeting is arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable. 

The Master Plan change would have preserved 75 acres of the property for open space and the other 60 acres that fronts Route 36 would have been zoned for non-residential development.

Board member Mark Regan made the motion to deny the land-use-change amendment, and the motion was supported by board members Dan Drury, Mark Woloshin, Cathy Silva, Edmund Fitterer Jr. and Regan. They are all named as defendants in the complaint, in addition to the Eatontown Planning Board, Eatontown Mayor and Council.

Voting against the motion were Mayor Gerald Tarantolo, board chairman Carl Sohl and board member Michael Napolitan.

The complaint calls for a reversal of the board's decision to reject the Master Plan amendment, adopting the amendment, declaration of the board's decision as null and void and "awarding such other relief as may be just and equitable."

The complaint also states that the current zoning for the site, which allows for low density single family dwellings, is "no longer realistic, viable or consistent with sound land use planning."

The complaint goes on to state the incoming Republican councilmembers Kevin Gonzalez and Richard Robinson "based their campaigns, in part, on their opposition to the," Master Plan amendment and "colluded with the Republican members of the (Eatonotwn) Planning Board," to get them to vote down the amendment.

It goes on to say that the decision by the five planning board members to deny the amendment presented an ethical conflict and violated due process and equal protection laws. It calls for them to pay "compensatory, consequential and punitive damages in the amount of $50 million" pay several legal fees.

Eatontown Ventures LLC is being represented by Paul Schneider of Giordano, Halleran and Ciesla.

Tara Smith December 24, 2013 at 03:48 PM
Had the amendment been approved, there would have been no legal recourse to stop the developers. They would have only been responsible for picking up about 10% of the cost for traffic improvements and the tax payers would have to pick up the rest. I agree that they're getting bad legal advice. Those are some libelous accusations against the Republicans. I attended the Meet the Candidates forum and was surprised that the topic of Old Orchard never even came up. I don't know how they can possibly prove collusion. They have opened themselves up to a counter libel suit from everyone that's been accused.
Fran Scott December 24, 2013 at 06:31 PM
Ms. Smith made a good point about the costs of infrastructure being laid at the feet of local Gov’t. From speaking with the Mayor’s Aide de Camp last Spring it was obvious that the highest Boro officials were giddy with the potential development and its promised ratables. That’s fine and a large part of what they should do, is seek ratable $ for the Town. At best they were ignorant of the potential for huge costs to the Town [and perhaps other governmental agencies] OR…..sigh, I cannot help but think that there is a good chance they were informed but turning a blind eye to the obligations that would then shift to the taxpayers of Eatontown. Whoopsie……uh, duh, well we did’nt know, would likely be the claim of the Town officials when the bills came due and then it would be too late. It was fortunate for the residents that a adjacent commercial site [the one that has about 30+ % vacancy] brought their own traffic consultant and a planner to rebut the proposal. OF COURSE these folks had their own interests, but that interest was much less important than the revelations that were made by those dissenters. What was learned from them is the fact that it the Master Plan was changed and this spot zoning of the Parcel was allowed, then the project would become a permitted use. With a permitted use, then the responsibility for the costs of [what was the only area alluded to in the last PB meet] highway improvements would fall on the Town [or maybe the DOT?] with the developer only liable for 10% of those costs. OOhhhhh, maybe not such a good deal now. That could be more than the suggested tax bill of 1.4 mil. As that was the only infrastructure improvement referenced I was left wondering that if that was the case, then what about Sewer [Eatontown] drainage [??County] and other ‘hidden’ areas that could cost the taxpayers several years of anticipated tax revenues. Besides all that there was a real risk that the ballyhooed open space could turn into an un-anticipated entertainment venue and not the quiet, non-invasive green space that was inferred, referenced and strongly referred to. Local goverment could not/would not afford it and by keeping the existing clubhouse there was a additional risk that it would be turned over to a commercial venue. go cart track anyone? ?Heck!! it could have been a permitted use. HEY!!! Who owns this place? Not the “LLC” but the wizards behind the curtain? Who are these guys connected to? Anyone venture a guess?
carl pinto December 24, 2013 at 08:43 PM
Here we go again the tax payers of eatontown have to pick up the tab for this mess,its time to clean house and get a new mayor and so on down the line,this is the very reason whyI moved out of this useless town. GOOD LUCK .......
Tara Smith December 31, 2013 at 10:58 PM
"Schneider said the developer tried to be fair and reasonable by eliminating the housing component of the proposal and instead designating that land open space. Since that proposal was rejected, “they may as well develop every square inch,” he said." http://www.app.com/article/20131230/NJNEWS/312300069/Developer-sues-borough-over-plan-s-rejection
Tara Smith January 02, 2014 at 12:53 PM
Just some interesting info on the folks behind the corporation that is suing Eatontown. National Realty & Development Corp was founded in 2006 by Robert C Baker in Purchase, NY. The grandson, Jack Baker that is working on developing the 450,000-square-foot shopping center in Eatontown, New Jersey, is 15 years old and will get it done by the time he’s 18. Purchase is aptly named after Harrison's purchase, for Harrison could have as much land as he could ride in one day. Now, instead of riding ability, the amount of land you can have is based on money & lawyers. Irony at its best- In 1967, two hundred residents supported a plan to incorporate Purchase so corporations could not build in the community. Purchase is now one of the most affluent, exclusive areas in the country. http://www.nrdc.com/properties/retail/marketplace-at-eatontown#!property-details http://www.nrdc.com/about-nrdc/news/a-family-affair-three-generations-of-bakers-have-their-eyes-on-retail-real-estate http://www.nrdc.com/about-nrdc/company-directory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purchase,_New_York

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