BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Bridgewater Township Planning Board memorialized the resolution on the approval of the Center of Excellence Feb. 25, amid continued lawsuit proceedings between Advance Realty and the board.
In a lawsuit filed by the COE applicant Jan. 31, the applicant was informed early in the day Jan. 28 that the vote for memorializing the resolution would be adjourned, as the new attorney for the planning board, Mark Peck, was still reviewing the transcripts for the hearings. The planning board did not consider the memorialization of the resolution on Jan. 28, and Peck advised the applicant the following day that it was expected to be on the agenda Feb. 25.
State statute, the suit says, requires the memorialization of the resolution to be done within 45 days of the meeting when the approval was granted.
In the suit, the applicant was requesting that the court declare the planning board in violation of that statute. In addition, the applicant was looking for the planning board to consider a letter dated Jan. 24 that objected to certain elements of the memorializing resolution.
As promised by the planning board, the resolution was passed Feb. 25. But the lawsuit is continuing as Advance Realty is objecting to some of the points in the memorializing resolution itself.
“As promised and required by law, the Bridgewater planning board passed the memorializing resolution for the development on the Center of Excellence site,” Mayor Matthew Moench said in a statement. “Now, rather than dismissing their action, Advance Realty is contesting the language in the resolution, claiming that they were given final site plan approval on several aspects of the application. This approval was never given and the planning board record demonstrates that they must come back before the board for final site plan approval of the supermarket and hotel.”
In a filing with the court Feb. 26, Nicole Dory, attorney with Advance Realty, confirmed that the planning board had adopted the resolution. But, she said, the parties are continuing to require the court to step in on outstanding issues in dispute related to the language and conditions in the resolution.
In particular, Dory said, the resolution says it will withhold final site plan approval for a portion of the application for certain buildings, and will introduce new and additional future public notice requirements that are not permitted by law.
The resolution states that final site plan approval for the grocery store, hotel and predominantly residential portion of the development on the north side of the property will be given at a later date. It indicates that the approval will be given for the grocery store after a full architectural layout is provided to the board for approval, and the same for the hotel.
Moench said it was determined during planning board meetings, prior to the approval of the project, that that approval would be given after the additional information is provided to the board.
“This matter is now in the courts, and I hope that it comes to a conclusion that is consistent with our land use laws,” Moench said.