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After months of diligent settlement talks, Lakewood Township and Berkshire Investments Holdings (which is owned by Sharon Dachs), today settled a lawsuit filed by the Elmwood Village Homeowners Association, FAA News has learned.

The lawsuit alleged that Berkshire Investments Holdings, as the developers of the Maplewoods development - with permission of Township officials - illegally used and damaged Elmwood's privately owned and maintained storm water management basin.

The lawsuit was originally filed in Ocean County Superior Court by Attorney Ron Gasiorowski Esq. Today's settlement was represented by Attorney Yosef Jacobovitch Esq.

Elmwood Village, which received Township Planning Board in 2003, built their own shul, playground, parking lot, and storm water management basin, all of which are privately owned and maintained by the Elmwood Village Homeowners Association (HOA).

In 2014, Berkshire Investments Holdings (which is owned by developer Sharon Dachs), received Township Planning Board approval to build 20 duplex units, a shul, and a storm water management basin on Elmhurst Boulevard across from Elmwood Village. Subsequently, due to environmental constraints, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection required the number of duplexes to be reduced to 13. The shul and storm water management basin remained in the approval.

Berkshire first commenced site clearing on the Elmhurst Boulevard homes back in January 2019. Once site clearing was complete, construction on the homes and their required storm water drainage basin stalled.

In late 2020, Elmwood Village residents and their property management company noticed that during and after significant rainfalls substantial and unreasonable amounts of muddy water from Berkshire's development site was discharging and finding its way to Elmwood's property and privately owned and maintained basin.

At one point, Berkshire even lay down pipes, establishing a direct connection to direct mud, silt and other discharges from its muddy "lake" directly to Elmwood's basin.

Eventually, Berkshire built their own storm water management basin.

In March 2021, prior to Berkshire's construction of their basin the Elmwood Village HOA filed a lawsuit in Ocean County Superior Court against Berkshire Investments Holdings and the Township of Lakewood seeking to stop the illegal use of their basin and to collect monetary damages.

The lawsuit sought a Writ of Mandamus to enjoin Berkshire from continuing to make use of Elmwood's basin, and for monetary damages that the illegal runoff has caused to their basin.

The lawsuit also charged that Township officials have permitted Berkshire to lay their pipes into Elmwood's basin, and despite pleas from the Elmwood Village HOA to use their enforcement powers to stop this illegal use, Town officials have refused to step in on the matter. As such, the lawsuit seeks a Writ of Mandamus to order the Township to issue a Stop Work Order and to cease all work until Berkshire removes their direct connection pipes and redesigns its drainage facilities to halt and prevent any unreasonable overland flow to Elmwood's property and basin and to comply with State Stormwater requirements.

The suit also sought a Writ of Mandamus requiring the Township to "enforce all soil erosion and control requirements and State Stormwater Regulations on Berkshire, and for Berkshire to conform its stormwater drainage plans and work to the State Stormwater Requirements."

The lawsuit was filed by Attorney Ron Gasiorowski Esq.

Since the filing of the lawsuit, Elmwood Village held off from proceeding to litigate, in the hopes that the Township and Dachs would settle in good faith.

As previously reported here on FAA News,  it November, after no settlement yet came to fruition, the Elmwood Village HOA replaced Mr. Gasiorowski with Yosef Jacobovitch, Esq. to bring their proposed settlement to fruition.

Today that settlement was finally made a reality!

To settle the matter of the damage to the basin, the Township has agreed to pay Elmwood Village $10,000. The Township has further agreed to assume the responsibility for the ownership, maintenance and care of the storm water drainage basin.

The Township was represented by Attorney Steven Secare Esq. Berkshire Investments Holdings was represented by Attorney Adam Pfeffer Esq.

As previously reported here on FAA News, this developer of these homes is also facing additional drama as the Planning Board stipulated in their approval that no Certification of Occupancy  can be received on any of the homes until the Shul is constructed, and now despite that the homes are practically move-in ready, construction on the shul has not yet even begun.

As previously reported here on FAA News, at least one home buying contract has been cancelled over the drama.

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Simcha said...

Why does it seem like the owner of Berkshire Investments has a history of refusing to play by the rules?

He needs to stop trying to squeeze everyone and take responsibility for your his actions. If it’s too hard for him then he should do everyone a favor and just get out of the land development business.

Anonymous said...

Sunset Grove by the same owner still doesn't have a shul. Let the buyer beware!

Anonymous said...

The developer didnt settle. We the taxpayers are once again paying the price for the township allowing developers to do whatever rhey want. Just like the roads, traffic and higher taxes.