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Speaking up can make a difference, even in Lakewood! It did for these Shady Lane residents.

Back in November 2022, Avraham Bichler, who owns 55 Shady Lane Drive, requested that the Township sell him the adjacent property which is located on the northeast side of Forest Drive, between 55 Shady Lane Drive and 93 Forest Drive. (Depicted in the map below, marked off in red).

The lot is an irregularly shaped 4,500 square feet property. The parcel is located in the R-15 zoning district which requires a minimum lot area of 15,000 sq feet, therefore the lot is wholly undersized.

Bichler did not explain to the Township how he wanted to use the lot and whether it would be for his own use or some other use.

Either way, at the time Township officials did agree to sell the land at a private sale, which is an auction which is open to all contiguous property owners.

N.J.S.A. 40A:12-13(b)(5) authorizes the Township to sell municipally owned real property at a private sale to an owner of real property contiguous thereto where the Township owned Property is less than the minimum size required for development under the municipal zoning ordinance and is without any capital improvement thereon; and

N.J.S.A. 40A:12-13(b)(5) further provides that where there is more than one owner of real property contiguous thereto, the municipal property shall be sold to the highest bidder from among all such contiguous owners and that the sale shall be for not less than the fair market value of the said real property.

The Statue also provides that the Township Committee must set forth in the ordinance authorizing the sale that the land to be sold is "not needed for public use."

Planning Board Administrator Ally Morris, by way of a memorandum dated November 16, 2022, indicated no objection to the sale of this parcel.

The Lakewood Township Tax Assessor valued the property for a minimum private sale bid price of $95,000.

On February 16, 2023, the Township Committee adopted an Ordinance authorizing the private sale of the lot.

The Ordinance "determined that the Property is surplus and not needed for public use, and the sale of the Property will return the Property to the tax rolls of the Township, and it is in the best interests of the Township to offer the Property for sale at a private sale to an owner of real property contiguous thereto, to the highest bidder."

The Ordinance expressly stipulated that the sale shall be subject to adjournment or cancellation by the Township Committee.

A private auction was held in Town Hall on March 23, 2023. The Township received offers at the private auction to purchase the property.

However, just before the deal was sealed, the Township received information that area residents voiced objection to this sale and advocated for the possible use of the property for public park purposes.

Therefore, the Township Committee reconsidered and rejected the bids, instead retaining the property for possible public use!

Of course, this by no means guarantees that the property may ever become a public park, however, this does ensure that the property does not become privately owned.

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Anonymous said...

looks like township took off the online agenda for the meetings and only have the PDF option can you verify this?

TY for all you work

Anonymous said...

looks like online agenda is there but different way to find it