Edison, NJ - The Edison Board of Education filed its lawsuit against the Edison Township Zoning Board and Markim Developers late last week.
The lawsuit seeks the reversal of the Zoning Board’s approval of 8 three-bedroom residential units at 144 Harding Avenue. Currently, the property is a single family home.
Markim sought a use variance for the property to construct two buildings, each containing four residential units. Multi-family residential dwellings are not permitted use in the O-S Zone, making the use variance necessary.
The Zoning Board initially denied the variance in October 2018, but one member who voted against the project, Edison Board of Education Member Ralph Errico, was subsequently disqualified and replaced on the Zoning Board. The October vote was voided based on Mr. Errico's disqualification, and a new hearing date was granted to Markim. Ultimately, the application was approved in April.
Calling the Zoning Board’s decision questionable, the Edison Board of Education authorized the lawsuit in April arguing that the construction of multi-unit residential units is exacerbating what has been termed Edison’s “school overcrowding crisis.”
“This is just another slap in the face. It’s eight units when we are also looking at multi units going all over town and I am hoping this is will be a great way of saying to the Township we need to hold back and do something,” Board of Education member Elizabeth Conway said at the April meeting.
In its complaint, the Board of Education alleges the Zoning Board violated the Open Public Meetings Act and that the Zoning Board’s approval was based on flawed data.
“Incredibly, the calculation of the number of school age children estimate, included in the fiscal impact statement, estimated that only two (2) additional “school aged” children would be associated with the development; despite the fact that the proposed construction was for eight (8) three (3) bedroom units,” the complaint alleges.
The complaint also alleges that Markim failed to “describe how the 2003 Edison Township Master Plan would permit this type of residential density.”
According to the 2003 Master Plan, “future developments must also evaluate the existing infrastructure systems and must include but not be limited to adding/upgrading or contributing to all impacted infrastructure systems,” including schools.
In its complaint, the Board of Education also alleges procedural violations by the Zoning Board. “The action taken by the Board at the April 30, 2019 Meeting was in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act,” states the complaint. “The sixteen-page Resolution , which the Board knew was imminent, was not listed on any agenda that was published in advance of the meeting,” it continues.
“I cannot comment about or respond to a lawsuit that the Township has not yet received or read,” Mayor Thomas Lankey said in a statement to TAPinto Edison.
Markim Developers has not returned a request for comment.