Join Our Telegram Channel


Is "third time's the charm?"

Lakewood Township's Zoning Board has once again scheduled a Special Meeting for the purpose of hearing Lake Terrace's application for a Use Variance to legalize the use of their banquet and concert hall.

This is the Board's third scheduling of a Special Meeting for the hearing of this application.

Lake Terrace submitted this Zoning Board application in response to 2 separate lawsuits filed against them by their industrial neighbor Clayton Associates, which allege that Lake Terrace never received proper approval from the Township's Zoning Board. Read more on their ongoing legal saga here on FAA News.

As previously reported here on FAA News, the Board scheduled a Special Meeting to hear this application back in October 2022.

However, that hearing was cancelled after Rob Shea Esq., an attorney representing an objector, submitted a letter arguing that the floor plans and valet parking plans were first made available to the public less than the statutorily required 10 days prior to the hearing, which was designed to give the public adequate time to review the application prior to the Board hearing on it, and therefore the Board lacked jurisdiction to hear the case as originally scheduled.

Adam Pfeffer Esq., the attorney representing Lake Terrace, responded in a letter that he "disagrees with the disagrees with the substance of the correspondence, but that the hearing should be carried out of an abundance of caution."

As previously reported here on FAA News, another Special Meeting was scheduled in November 2022.

However, the meeting was also cancelled because, prior to the meeting, Attorney Rob Shea wrote to the Board that they failed to provide "adequate notice" of the special meeting by only publishing notice in one newspaper and not two.

The New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act (NJSA 10:4-7 & 8) provides "the right of its citizens to have adequate advance notice of and the right to attend all meetings of public bodies at which any business affecting the public is discussed." "Adequate notice" means written advance notice of at least 48 hours, giving the time, date, location and, to the extent known, the agenda of any regular, special or rescheduled meeting... which shall be... delivered to at least two newspapers... designated by the public body to receive such notices because they have the greatest likelihood of informing the public within the area of jurisdiction of the public body of such meetings...

As previously reported here on FAA News, at a recent Court hearing regarding the banquet hall use lawsuit, Mr. Shea argued to Ocean County Superior Court Judge Marlene Ford that the Use Variance may need to be moved from Lakewood to Toms River's Zoning Board as there may not be a sufficient number of board members in Lakewood without a conflict of interest.

The New Jersey Municipal Land Use Law (NJSA 40:55D) requires an affirmative vote of 5 Zoning Board members in order to grant a Use Variance. The MLUL (NJSA 40:55D-69.1) also provides that if the Zoning Board lacks a quorum because any of its members are prohibited from acting on a matter due to their personal or financial interest therein - whether direct or indirect - Class IV members of the planning board shall be called upon (in order of seniority of continuous service to the planning board) to serve, for that matter only, as temporary members of the Zoning Board.

Mr. Shea asserted that numerous Zoning and Planning board members have "direct or indirect personal or financial interest" to Lake Terrace and therefore the Use Variance appeal may need to be moved out of Lakewood and over to Toms River's Zoning Board.

The Lakewood Zoning Board has now published legal notice for a Special Meeting on the application to be held on Wednesday, February 1, 2023.

Clayton Associates will be fully represented by Mr. Shea as well as their own planners and traffic experts who will testify in strong opposition to the granting of the Use Variance - if Mr. Shea permits the hearing to actually take place.

Parking is expected to be the number one hot issue.

Lake Terrace currently has 379 parking spaces. Due to the numerous court hearings they had recently regarding the congestion caused to the adjacent roadways by all the on-street parking, Clayton is likely to argue that Lake Terrace does not have sufficient parking to be granted a Use Variance.

Lake Terrace has submitted plans to add valet parking which will increase their parking capacity.

This is not the first time that Lake Terrace has applied to the Zoning Board in an attempt to get rid of the lawsuits.

Lake Terrace also submitted an application in 2021 to the Zoning Board for a Use Variance so they could finally seek legal approval for their banquet hall. While their application was pending they filed a motion to get the judge to declare the lawsuit moot on the basis that "this site is now in the jurisdiction of the Zoning Board". In response, attorneys for Clayton seeked court approval to shut down Lake Terrace until - if, and when - it receives Zoning Board approval. Judge Ford denied to declare the lawsuit moot. A short while later, Lake Terrace mysteriously withdrew their appliance from the Zoning Board.

Even if the Zoning Board does grant the requested Use Variance, it's unlikely that concerts will restart very soon, because the New Jersey Department of Transportation requires a special approval from them for every Use Variance a Zoning Board grants in the Airport Hazard area, and, on February 7th 2022, Judge Ford signed an Order saying "Defendants are enjoined from using the property as a concert hall until such time that there is a change in the use authorized by the Lakewood Zoning Board of Adjustment and Defendants have satisfied any and all conditions contained within such resolution" - likely those conditions will include getting DOT approval which will likely take some time.

To join a FAA WhatsApp Group, click here.

To join the FAA WhatsApp Status, click here.

No comments: