CRANFORD, NJ – The Township of Cranford’s effort to block the development of the Birchwood area sustained a setback Tuesday April 26, when the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division denied the township’s two appeals on the project.
The first appeal had to do with the DEP permits that were granted, that would allow the project to be built. The township contended the site is unsuitable for a development this size, as well as being in a flood zone.
The second appeal pertained to litigation commenced by CDA (Cranford Development Associates) allowing the actual construction of the project. The township contested the builder was not acting in good faith and they could not be a catalyst for the affordable housing compliance. CDA claimed the project would help Cranford meet its affordable housing requirement. Cranford was required to have another 54 units, this project would add 360 units.
At a township committee meeting Tuesday evening, all the members of the committee were unified in their significant disappointment at the ruling. “I was very disheartened by the court’s lack of understanding of the case,” Mayor Kalnins said. “We will continue to look at and weigh all of our options.”
“I am astounded not one of the judges saw the merits of our case,” Deputy Mayor Mary O’Connor said. Of the three presiding judges deciding the case not one ruled in the township’s favor. O’Connor believes the township should continue to fight, “Our residents deserve the continued commitment, I believe it’s worth the fight.”
“It has been a disappointing day for Cranford, it is an active floodway, this project will exacerbate flooding in the township,” Commissioner Tom Hannen said. He noted that FEMA is offering residents grants to elevate their homes, while the DEP is granting permits to build in a flood zone, “It makes no sense,” Hannen said.
Commissioner Patrick Giblin commented, “I too am very disappointed in the ruling and the committee will look at all of our options.”
“I echo the sentiment of disappointment about the decision," Commissioner John Mallon said, "Everyone here is committed to do what we can for the best interest of the town.”
On what the next steps will be, Township Attorney Diane Dabulas stated, “We will take a hard look at the options and determine whether we will seek a further review by the State Supreme Court.”
Mayor Kalnins commented, “I have confidence in this group and we will continue in the direction for the best interest of Cranford.” Kalnins also encouraged residents to reach out to Township Administrator Terence Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org, Township Attorney Diane Dabulas or any committee member with their concerns and issues.