Despite initial rumors of a possible deal with Lakewood Township officials to swap land with Menachem Gutfreund so that his Spruce Street property can be used for a public park, it appears that those talks are currently off the table, as Mr. Gutfreund recently notified the neighbors that he will be presenting an application this Monday to the Zoning Board for houses on that property.

Menachem Gutfreund and the PD Family Credit Shelter Trust, which own 118 Ocean Avenue LLC, have been working very hard for several years to get various land use approval on Spruce Street between Washington and Vine Avenue's (across from Beis Kaila), despite much opposition from the neighbors.

In January 2019, 118 Ocean submitted an application to the Zoning Board for 6 homes on one lot, and 4 homes on the other lot. The Township's zoning ordinances permit only 2 single family homes in this zone.

Numerous neighbors flocked to the Board's public hearing to plead with the Board to deny the requested Use Variance.

Board member Obed Gonzales worked very hard to approve the application, so much so that when Abby Hirsch, a neighbor who was opposed to the application, stated that Mr. Gonzales should recuse himself as he had just started working for a company which was under Mr. Hirsch's control, Mr. Gonzales immediately announced that he is resigning from working for that company!

The Zoning Board denied that application.

In October 2019, 118 Ocean submitted a "much reduced application" for only 9 homes on these lots. Immediately, the neighbors filed emergent legal action in Chancery Court objecting to the Board’s hearing the Second Application because, inter alia, of a conflict of interest involving Chairman Abe Halberstam and Mr. Gutfreund.

Subsequently, Mr. Gutfreund met with the neighbors and he agreed to withdraw the Second

Thereafter, in 2020, Mr. Gutfreund returned with a revised application to construct 6 single family homes on only one of the lots, Block 837 Lot 1. This is a 60,000 sq foot lot so 1.09 homes would be permitted on that lot.

The neighbors were represented by Attorney Jan Meyer who opposed the application and asked for a minor adjournment of the hearing so he could bring an expert to testify regarding the application.

The Board ignored this request, and approved a reduced plan of 4 single family homes on 15,000 sq foot lots each.

Due to his conflict with Mr. Gutfreund which was previously exposed in Chancery Court, Mr. Halberstam was not present at that application.

Subsequently, on December 8, 2020, Mr. Meyer filed a Complaint in Lieu of Prerogative Writs seeking to overturn the Board's approval. The four-count lawsuit included a charge that the Board violated the statutory requirements of notice and availability of documents set forth in the Emergency Remote Meeting Protocol for Local Public Bodies.

In January 2022, Judge Ford granted summary judgement to the neighbors and tossed out the Board's approval.

In February 2023, as first reported here on FAA News, Mr. Gutfreund again charged on with his development dreams for his property, with an application to the Planning Board for a 2-story plus finished basement child care center, with a capacity of 350 children. This application is for Block 837 Lot 1, which is the site of the 2020 overturned Zoning Board approval.

Child care centers are a permitted use in the zone and therefore don't require a Use Variance from the Zoning Board, however, the Township does not have a set parking requirement for child care centers, which gives the neighbors leeway to oppose the application.

As soon as the neighbors received notice of the application, they retained Attorney Jan Meyer Esq. to represent their opposition.

Subsequently, in April, as previously reported here on FAA News, Attorney Matthew Fiorovanti Esq. representing Mr. Gutfreund requested that the application be adjourned until further notice.

This application has not been brought back to the Board in the time since then.

Since that time, FAA News has learned that there has been some discussion with Township officials regarding the possibility of the Township swapping land with Mr. Gutfreund so that the Spruce Street property can remain open space, and possibly even one day turned into a public playground.

However, it appears that this possibility is now off the table, as Mr. Gutfreund has submitted an application to the Zoning Board for a Use Variance for 6 single family homes on Block 831 Lot 1, which is across from the proposed child care center lot.

The application is listed as Appeal #4281 on the Board's upcoming public hearing this Monday, July 10.

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קנאה תאווה והכבוד מוציאין את האדם מן העולם said...

It seems that Gutfreund gets a high from fighting with his land developments neighbors. It’s like wherever he goes, he gets too greedy and fights with the neighbors. I wonder who gave him his chinuch? Did he ever open a mussar sefer?

Greedy G said...

הכסף יענה את הכל

Anonymous said...

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