The Fairways Homeowners Association has been delaying advancement of Ocean County's plans to widen Cross Street. Ocean County Superior Court Judge Francis Hodgson has now put an end to their meddling, FAA News has learned.

The entire stretch of Cross Street is currently one travel lane in each direction with additional lanes at the signalized intersections.

To alleviate traffic along this heavily traveled corridor, county engineers have worked for years on a project to widen the entire roadway to 3-lanes plus shoulders.

The project will be done in two phases. Phase one covers the 1.4 miles length of Cross Street between Route 9 and Augusta Boulevard. Phase two covers the remainder of the road to Lakewood New Egypt Road.

In phase 1, the project section of Cross Street will be widened with the addition of a center turning lane and an increased shoulder on the westbound side of the road. After construction, this section of the roadway will total 52 feet wide, with two – 12 foot wide travel lanes, a 12 foot center left turn lane, and two - 8 foot wide shoulders.

At the intersection with Massachusetts Avenue, the Cross Street approach will have a 12 foot travel lane, 12 foot left turn lane, a 12 foot right turn lane, and 5 foot wide shoulder and the Massachusetts Avenue approach will have a 12 foot wide travel lane, a 12 foot wide left turn lane, and 8 foot wide shoulder.

This key intersection will also be upgraded with a new traffic signal with dedicated left turning phases in all approaches.

Stormwater management facilities and improvements to the roadway drainage system will also be constructed.

County officials secured New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection approval for prerequisite environmental permits in Spring 2021. They have since been finalizing plans and have begun acquiring rights-of-way necessary for the land taking and easements.

However, the Fairways Homeowners Association has refused to sign off on the right-of-way taking, which has led to a delay in getting the entire project out to bid.

To make way for widening Cross Street adjacent to the Fairways property, the County needs to take 2,657 sq feet of land, permanent utility easements, as well as temporary construction easements.

County representatives notified the Fairways Homeowners Associations back in May 2022 that they would be visiting the site to do the appraisal valuation and they were welcome to be on site for the appraisal.

In August 2022 county representatives notified the Fairways Homeowners Associations that their appraisal valued the just compensation of the taking and temporary easements at $33,700. Most of the taking includes easements and landscaping. The developments 1,114 single family homes and club house will not be impacted.

To this date however, the Fairways Homeowners Associations has refused to sign off on the land taking.

In response, and as necessary to keep the road widening project on track, as previously reported here on FAA News, Ocean County officials filed legal action against Fairways Homeowners Associations seeking for a Court-ordered condemnation of the land.

The legal action (Order to Show Cause), filed in Superior Court by Ocean County Attorney Laura Benson Esq., seeks for the Court to approve the land taking under condemnation due to the public purpose of widening the road, and for the Court to appoint commissioners to set the just amount of the taking.

Once the just amount is set, the County would petition the Court to permit them to place that amount of money in the Court's trust account where the Fairways Homeowners Associations would be free to pick it up at their convenience.

In response, the Fairways Homeowners Association retained the law firm of Bathgate, Wenger, and Wolf to represent their continued opposition.

Judge Hodgson has now granted the Order to Show Cause, permitting the County to take the land so they can advance their road widening project.

Several more property owners along Cross Street have also refused to grant the taking of the right of way. The county has filed several additional Orders to Show Cause against them. Some still remain pending.

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