NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – An attorney representing the Board of Education is asking a judge to dismiss the final two counts of a five-count lawsuit filed by opponents of a plan to raze a 60-year-old school and build a new one.
Vaughn McKoy, a member of the Parsippany-based firm Inglesino Webster Wyciskala Taylor LLC, filed a motion for reconsideration in Middlesex County Superior Court on Thursday.
If Judge Arthur Bergman dismisses the final two counts, it would pave the way for a sweeping $750 million plan to move forward.
Lincoln Annex would be leveled and the state’s first free-standing cancer hospital would be built in its place. The other part of the plan calls for a $55 million replacement school to be built on Jersey Avenue.
RWJBarnabas plans to pay to have Lincoln Annex leveled and build the state’s first free-standing cancer hospital on the site. The 12-story hospital will be connected to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey via sky bridges.
RWJBarnabas will work with the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO) and the board to build a replacement school on a 4.25-acre lot of vacant land at 50 Jersey Ave.
Bergman last month dismissed the first three charges in the lawsuit, which asserted that the board could not sell the school because of deed restrictions placed on the property when the Catholic Diocese of Metuchen sold the old St. Peter’s school to the city for $7.4 million in 2013.
Bergman dismissed the charges, ruling that only the diocese could enforce the deed restrictions.
He did not rule on the final two charges, however.
Attorneys for LatinoJustice, who filed the suit on the behalf of Lincoln Annex parents Maria Juarez, Julio Herrera Vivar and Maria Chiquito, and Rutgers professor Lilia Fernandez, won a temporary victory last month when Bergman ruled that he wanted more information in regard to the charge that the Board of Education violating the Open Public Meeting Act.
However, a separate lawsuit charging the Board of Education with violating the laws that have served as guidelines for public meetings and ensure their transparency since being adopted in 1975 was dismissed in Middlesex County Superior Court by Judge Vincent LeBlon last month.
McKoy is asking Bergman to recognize LeBlon’s ruling and dismiss the count.
The fifth count of the lawsuit pertains to the Board of Education’s submission of a long-range facilities plan to the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education before it was reviewed by the city’s Planning Board.
The Planning Board voted at its July 6 meeting that a plan to build the school was consistent with the city’s master plan as amended by the Jersey Handy redevelopment plan.
The Planning Board was moved to make a ruling under Section 31 of the land use laws based on correspondence between the Board of Education’s architects and the New Jersey Department of Education concerning the land acquisition of the 50 Jersey Ave. site.
Opponents of the plan to raze Lincoln Annex say it will be detrimental to the students’ education to have them study at the Pathways Campus at 40 Van Dyke Ave. while the replacement school is built. They also cited the inconvenience of having the children take a bus to school.
The site at 50 Jersey Ave. is contaminated and in need of remediation before construction could commence.
The Diocese of Metuchen is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.