There are some pretty BIG questions which are worthy of getting answered by the Lakewood Township Planning Board!

Pursuant to Statutory requirements, the application for a land use board approval required signed authorization from the property owner permitting the applicant to submit the application.

This permits a contract purchaser to submit an application to the Planning Board despite that he does not yet own the property, but only with authorization from the property owner.

Somehow, a big application made its way onto Tuesday night's Planning Board meeting agenda despite having no signed authorization from the property owner!

Even worse, after the Board Attorney attempted to keep the application on the agenda even after the property owner retained legal representation!

The Board only removed the application after the developer agreed to remove it!

1501 Prospect Street LLC, which is owned by Jonathan Rubin of Modani Properties, submitted Application # SP-2533 to the Planning Board for Site Plan approval to construct a 139,358 sq foot multi-unit warehouse and office building at the 6.38 acres site at 1501 Prospect Street.

Architectural plans depict that 12 separate warehouse units are proposed.

The coolest part is that only 149 off-street parking are proposed. This is a low number for a project of this scope and it was purposely designed so, in order to conveniently sneak away from the requirement to obtain a CAFRA Permit on parking lots larger than 149 spaces.

Along with the 5 page application, application fees, plus $9,200 in escrow funds to cover the Board's professionals fees to review the application, Mr. Rubin also submitted a 2 sheet survey, a 23 sheet site plan, a 6 sheet architectural plan, a stormwater management report, a stormwater facilities operations and maintenance manual, a traffic impact assessment, comments from the Lakewood Shade Tree Commission, and a point-by-point response letter, prepared by Newlines Engineering.

Just one "teenie tiny thingy" that Mr. Rubin did not submit to the Planning Board is the signed authorization of the property owner for submission of this application!

Shown below is the unsigned property owner authorization form which Mr. Rubin did submit to the Board.

Astoundingly, the application made its way right past the eyes of Board Administrator Ally Morris, Board Engineer Terry Vogt, and most shockingly, Board Attorney John Jackson Esq.!

The property is the estate of the deceased Douglas Vogel. The current Administrator of the Estate, Kathy Vogel, has entered a contract to sell the property to Prospect One LLC, which is apparently owned by Mr. Rubin.

Upon learning of the application to the Planning Board, Ms. Vogel immediately retained Attorney Ryan J. Murphy Esq. of Gertner Murphy LLC, who notified Ms. Morris that Ms. Vogel, the property owner, has not executed any portion of this pending application and does not consent to the application proceeding at this time. 

"Accordingly, it is respectfully asserted that the Application is incomplete and that the Planning Board lacks jurisdiction... this application cannot legally proceed," Mr. Murphy wrote to the Board.

It's shocking that the Board's professionals would accept submission of an application which is lacking signed authorization of the property owner as is required.

It's even more sad that a property owner needs to be forced to retain legal representation to argue to the Board as to why they lack jurisdiction to entertain an application which is lacking their signed authorization.

However, even worse than all this is that the Board Attorneys refused to back down, and instead, kept fighting to keep the application on schedule!

Board Attorneys John Jackson and Alexandra Ehrhardt Esq. responded that the Municipal Land Use Law (N.J.S.A. 40:55D‐4) permits a "developer" to submit an application, and defines "developer" to include a "legal... owner or... the holder of ... [a] contract to purchase... land." Accordingly, the Board's attorneys concluded that a contract purchaser does have standing to proceed with a land use application.

This is quite an interesting argument because the issue at matter was not whether or not a contract purchaser may submit a land use application, but rather, whether or not the Board has jurisdiction to consider an application which lacks signed authorization from the property owner!

The good news is that the matter was finally settled when Attorney Adam Pfeffer Esq., representing Mr. Rubin consented to pull the application until, if and when, they receive signed authorization from the property owner.

Indeed, there are some pretty BIG questions here which are worthy of getting answered by the Lakewood Township Planning Board!

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1 comment:

001 said...

These stories are stopping to amaze me 😞.