Belmar Inks Proposed Deal to Settle Lawsuit with Developer of Stalled Riverfront Project

Belmar has reached a tentative settlement of a lawsuit by the developer of the stalled mixed-use project on River Road, where a never-opened outdoor bar still sits empty. Credits: Cathy Goetz

BELMAR, NJ — Belmar has reached a tentative settlement of a lawsuit by the developer of the stalled mixed-use project on River Road, where a never-opened outdoor bar still sits empty.

Under a resolution approved by the borough council on July 11, Business Administrator Colleen Connelly is authorized to enter into the settlement agreement with Loko Co., LLC, which would resolve its breach-of-contract lawsuit against the borough and calls for revisions to the original redevelopment agreement.

The settlement also includes a parking license that allows the borough to temporarily use existing parking spaces along River Road on property it previously vacated as part of the project.

Sign Up for E-News

Although the details of the settlement agreement were not disclosed, attorney Jennifer Phillips Smith of Newark-based Gibbons, P.C., who represented the borough in the litigation, said that both parties "realized there was a way to mutually resolve the dispute, and the borough and redeveloper want to see the permanent development of the site."

As a result, the tentative agreement applies to the second phase of the redevelopment project approved in 2014 — referring to the construction of two mixed-use buildings of 10 residential condominiums and first-floor commercial space, which would include a restaurant and bar.

The project’s first phase called for the construction of a temporary outdoor bar and café for the 710 River Road site, which would have operated from 2015 to 2017. However, those plans did not materialize after the borough council rejected a liquor license transfer for brothers Timothy and Matthew Harmon to open Salt, the tiki-style bar built overlooking the Shark River but never opened. As a result, Loko, owned by developer Gregory Kapalko of Belmar, filed suit against the borough in November 2016.

In the lawsuit, Kapalko and partners Shelly LoCasico and Brett Yarusi claimed that the borough breached its redevelopment agreement contract by denying the Harmons' liquor license transfer, committed fraud and engaged in a host of actions that prevented the project to commence.

Before the council approved the resolution, Mayor Matthew Doherty stressed that the settlement includes “zero dollars and zero cents" of taxpayer dollars. “The borough is not paying the plaintiff anything,” he said. "In the lawsuit, they alleged serious misdeeds (against him and the borough), none of which are true."

However, because the borough must still pay legal fees associated with the case, "this entire exercise is a complete waste of taxpayer dollars,” he said.

In its 2017 budget, Belmar has allocated $216,000 for legal fees, compared to $121,000 in 2016 — earmarked for a number of lawsuits against the borough, including litigation related to the disputed liquor license transfer.

William Wolf, the attorney representing Loko is on vacation and could not be reached comment on the proposed settlement. Once the agreement is signed, Loko has 90 days to file an application for preliminary and final site plan approvals with the planning board. Loko plans on starting construction within six months of final planning board approval, according to special counsel Smith.

In a related matter, there was no information available on the status of the $10 million federal lawsuit filed in April by the Harmons who are seeking damages resulting from what they claim has been the borough’s deliberate effort to prevent them from opening Salt.


TAPinto Belmar/Lake Como is Belmar and Lake Como’s only free daily newspaper. Sign up to get all the news as it happens at and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @TAPintoBelmar.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Belmar/Lake Como

Princeton Students Achieve Success: Bog Turtle Designated State Reptile

June 19, 2018

TRENTON, NJ — Legislation inspired by students from Princeton designating the endangered bog turtle as the New Jersey state reptile has been signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy.

“I am so proud of the successful effort of students at Riverside Elementary and their teacher, Mark Eastburn, to name the bog turtle as New Jersey’s official reptile,”  said Sen.

Could Monmouth Park's Haskell Invitational Be on Justify's Agenda?

June 13, 2018

ELMONT, NY — Triple Crown winner Justify came out of his stall to meet the media bright and bouncing on the morning after his gate-to-wire win in the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes.

When asked to assess his colt's win, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert reported, “We were watching replays of the race. He could have gone around again.”

The brilliantly colored ...

Upcoming Events


Fri, June 22, 11:00 AM

Taylor Pavilion, Belmar

Belmar Woman's Club Book and Granny's Attic Sale


Fri, June 22, 6:30 PM

Pyanoe Plaza, Belmar

Friday Night Concert Series: Chris Turner and the ...


Sat, June 23, 10:00 AM

Calvary Baptist Church, Belmar

Calvary Baptist Church's Giant Jumble Sale

Cool Ways to Save Money This Summer

As the summer temperatures rise, home cooling costs rise as well. But there are ways to help save money without sweating the heat:

To increase your cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, get it checked out for summer.  A technician will clean the condenser, make sure you have the optimal amount of refrigerant, and ensure the airflow over the coil is ...

JCP&L Completes Inspections and Projects Before Summer to Enhance Customer Service Reliability

June 12, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ — Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) has completed inspections and projects across its 13-county service area, including Monmouth County, to enhance customer reliability in preparation for the summer season.

The work included upgrading transmission and substation equipment, upgrading circuits and trimming trees along power lines.

Helicopter patrols are ...

Facebook Provides Verification Badges for All TAPinto Facebook Pages

TAPinto and its 75 partner sites have been verified on Facebook with the social media platform's blue badge, which is given to news organizations that meet Facebook's authenticity criteria. 

Facebook gives the blue verification badge to "eligible brands, media organizations and public figures," based on factors that include policy compliance and public ...

Belmar and Lake Como

June 2, 2018

Belmar Police Department reported the following arrests occurred in Belmar and Lake Como from April 1, 2018 to April 28, 2018.


Ryan Miles, 33, of Belmar was charged with contempt on an outstanding warrant after his arrest on April 1 on Route 35 by Police Officer Patrick McGill.

Lisa Perrault, 49, of Long Branch was arrested on 16th Avenue on April 6 by Police Officer Patrick ...