SPARTA, NJ - Imagine getting ready to move into your new house just to discover with the final paperwork that your property is not what it seems. This happened to a young couple from Morristown, Mike and Ashley Soleau, who are expecting their first child.

They went to the closing on their new house in December to find the property that was directly behind them, their backyard, did not belong to them.  Somewhere in the history of the property, a separate lot was created cleaving the dwelling from the backyard.

Frank and Sheryl Clark, Anthony and Lynda Trongone and Planning Board member Ted Gall and his wife Diana, new neighbors of the Soleaus in Lake Mohawk were willing to come together to help them out.

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None of the next door neighbors wanted to have another house build on the lot. They all agreed to chip in the funds to purchase the lot for the couple.  When they found they were still short of the purchase price another neighbor from across the street join the effort.  They did not want anything built there either for fear of an obstructed view.

This was not an easy task though. Attorney, Deborah Lynn Nicholson sought the assistance of Township Clerk Mary Coe, Deputy Clerk Kathleen Chambers and Land Use Administrator and Zoning Officer Maureen Donnelly, to help legally find the way to give the Soleau’s their backyard.

“We dug through mold-encrusted files.  It was an extraordinary effort by all.” said Nicholson.  They dug through many files to finally find the appropriate deeds and ordinances.

Nicholson represented the young couple and the neighbors working to devise the plan. The plan involves dissolving the plot and to equally distribute the land amongst the neighbors.

The Sparta Planning Board approved the plan unanimously.

Mayor Quinn said, “The residents are to be commended.  It is encouraging to see people working together.”

Chairman Ernie Hofer said, “It’s encouraging and refreshing to see people working together to accomplish something.” Adding they were “setting an example of a good community.”

The Soleau’s are expecting their first child. Diana Gall said, “Now the Soleau’s will have a yard for their child to play in.”