Many residents of Middletown and its vicinity know that on June 20th of last year the Middletown Planning Board voted 9-0 to reject the application of Four Ponds Associates to build a 342-unit townhouse/apartment complex near the center of the Village of Lincroft. Some of these residents may not know, however, that the applicant has appealed the denial to the Superior Court. Consequently, it is imperative that area citizens understand that the fight to retain the integrity and character of Lincroft is far from over. To the end, residents are encouraged to attend an informational meeting sponsored by SONIC at Brookdale Community College, on Thursday, Feburary 28 at 7 pm.
To make it possible for the opinions of local citizens to be heard during this appeal process, Ron Gasiorowski, the attorney who presented the case against the Four Ponds application to the Planning Board, has been retained to continue his work on behalf of SONIC (Save Our Neighborhood’s Integrity and Character). The effectiveness of his case against the petition before the Planning Board is evidenced by the fact that the Board’s Resolution of Denial relied heavily on the testimony of the expert witnesses presented by Mr. Gasiorowski. SONIC hired these experts to expose the numerous defects in the application.
Mr. Gasiorowski will continue to counter the proposed building plan as the appeal goes through the courts. In the early stages of these proceedings he filed a Motion to Intervene on behalf of SONIC, and overcame the objections of the developer, who does not want the community voices to be heard. Obviously, such legal action requires time and money. My colleagues and I will contribute both of these. We ask you to show your support for our common cause. During the remainder of the appeal, should any discussions ensue as to a proposed settlement of this matter, such as re-sizing the proposed community, Mr. Gasiorowski will represent SONIC, and the community will benefit.
That is precisely where we stand, as I write this. We have a seat at the table in the court proceedings. During the original Planning Board hearings, which took just over a year to complete, we incurred $60,000 in professional fees. These fees covered the cost of Counsel and our three expert witnesses, who carefully built the record that supports the decision of the Board.
Even though we have a seat at the table, no additional testimony or other evidence can be introduced by the parties. It all comes down now to the legal issues. SONIC continually pushed the residents to help with the cost to build this record by contributing money, as many of you have done. But there is certainly a need for the community to contribute again to defend the decision that protects our neighborhoods in Lincroft!
One example that shows what is at stake is the need for sewer improvements in the event this project is built. During the Planning Board meetings, the testimony was that these improvements could cost approximately two million dollars. When the applicant’s engineer was questioned, the response was that the applicant would be willing to pay its “pro-rata share” of the “incremental cost” to Middletown. Well, who would pay the rest? The taxpayers, that’s who! Hard to fathom, but this proposed complex would cause the need for the sewer improvements and require you to pay for most of them—an arrangement that is patently wrong.
You can bet the same would be true for other so-called “incremental costs.” This is another reason why Abe Littenberg, Jeffrey Blumengold, and SONIC as a whole, are now appealing to you directly through this article, asking you to both educate yourselves and send money, in care of the LVGA (Lincroft Village Green Association).
The LVGA has been kind enough to collect, escrow, and disburse funds to pay those professionals who have greatly assisted us in our opposition to this application. Please note on your contributions that they are for the “Four Ponds Opposition Fund”. Thank you for all of your support, at the Board hearings and from your pocketbooks.
In closing, let me quote the one and only Yogi Berra: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over!"
Jeffrey Blumengold, Lincroft Resident and Founding Member of SONIC (Save Our Neighborhood’s Integrity & Character)