Union Hotel Plan is Targeted by Lawsuit

Flemington's Union Hotel Credits: Rick Epstein / TAPinto Flemington-Raritan file photo

FLEMINGTON, NJ – Another lawsuit has been filed against the borough by Friends of Historic Flemington. If upheld, it could delay or scuttle Jack Cust's plans to redevelop the Union Hotel and surrounding properties.

Friends of Historic Flemington is an an advocacy group that is seeking to preserve the historic hotel. The suit describes the Friends group as a “group of citizens, professionals, business and property owners concerned about Flemington’s historic buildings and historic district.”

The suit was also filed on behalf of Lois Stewart of Spring Street and Gary Schotland, who is an owner of 123 Main St. It was filed by attorney M. James Maley, who has represented the group in previous suits against the borough.

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The suit was filed last week and includes two counts. It contends that the redevelopment designation that includes the Union Hotel is invalid because, in part, Borough Council did not first direct the Planning Board to make a “preliminary investigation” to determine if the area met state rules for redevelopment. It also argues that “there is no substantial credible evidence on the record”  to show that it qualifies as a non-condemnation redevelopment area.

The second count claims that the borough’s plan to allow a Payment in Lieu of Taxes program to redeveloper Jack Cust is unconstitutional because it violates the state’s Blighted Areas Clause. The suit argues that to satisfy the clause, officials must show that properties within the redevelopment area “have a decadent effect on surrounding property.”  

Flemington Mayor Phil greiner said the suit is not a surprise. "We expected it," he said in a statement. "We will deal with it in due course as the project moves along."

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the name of one of the plaintiffs and to inlcude the mayor's response.

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