By: takebacklakewood | January 31, 2019

When the Master Plan proposed zoning changes that allowed higher density in certain zones, and allowed regular housing (instead of just senior housing) at Eagle Ridge, the changes were made contingent on

1) Significant road enhancements leading to a level C or better on the surrounding roads

2) Impact fees being enacted in the entire Lakewood

The Planning Board specifically made sure that the zoning changes would only take effect once these enhancements were made.

This coming Tuesday, Feb. 5th, there is a planning board application for 566 houses in Eagle Ridge. The applicant says that it is a conforming application.

But wait! How is this application conforming? Before the Master Plan this was an R-40 zoned only for Seniors. How can they now build regular housing at higher density?

The shocking answer is - that they pulled the wool over everyone's eyes. When the Master Plan proposed zoning changes that were dependent on traffic improvements, many questioned the legality of such an ordinance. People asked the township and attorneys directly - what if developers challenge the restrictions in court and are left with zoning changes with no road improvements?

Well guess what!! In early 2018, Augusta Holdings LLC (another LLC owned by the same owners as Eagle Ridge) did exactly that! In a lawsuit filed on 1/22/18 they claim that the ordinance requiring roadway improvements, was in effect a moratorium and therefore violated their rights to use their land. They therefore requested that the restrictions placed on the zoning changes be removed.

The Township Attorney sent a response on 3/15/18 saying that the Township only meant to allow the new zoning if the trafic changes are implemented and therefore the applicant is no worse off than before the master plan.

On 4/12/18, Judge Ford ruled against Lakewood Township and upheld the zoning changes withot the trafffic enhancements!! That means that now Eagle Ridge can utilize the new zoning laws even though the roadway improvements were never implmented. 

Wait what??? Yes - you read that correctly.  9 months ago a judge ruled to strike out the traffic improvements and uphold the remainder of the zoning changes!!

Well, while the ruling was surprising, surely the township appealed the ruling and pleaded their case to uphold the Master plan as intended right? NOPE! There was no appeal nor attempt to fight this odd ruling.

Shockingly, in all this time, no one was even aware of this ruling. Well - surely the Mayor and Township Committee and Planning Board knew about it right? After all, it was a lawsuit against Lakewood Township, Lakewood's lawyer was involved in drafting a response and Lakewood lost big in a way that will have a major detrimental impact on the Cross St. Area. Surely the people in Charge of Lakewood knew about this right??

Incredibly - it turns out that until today, Mayor Ray Coles and other  Township Committee members knew nothing about this lawsuit!! WHAT?????

How is it possible that the Townships Attorney Hensel and Secare acted on a lawsuit without informing the mayor and Township Committee? It is mind boggling!

Well, obviously there was one Township Committeeman who knew about it. Yes, you guessed it - the one who was on the Master Plan committee, was involved in telling T&M how to draft the ordinances, does Real Estate work for Mizrachi etc. Yes - our good friend M. L. knew all about this lawsuit and ensured that no one else on the committee knew about it until the time for appeal had passed. 

There are many other problems with the plans. 

The traffic study was taken in early 2017 with a predicted annual growth rate of 1.5%.
Many roadways were tested at a level F. 
The reports say there will be 3,665 new residents (6.5 people per house) but only 733 schoolchildren (1.3 per house??). 
The new houses without road improvement will cripple traffic in the entire area. 

And most importantly - how in the world did the Mayor and Township Committee only learn about this today!!!!!

Clearly a deliberate cover-up took place here!

They are playing the entire town for fools while they now apply to the Planning Board for approval.  

This entire lawsuit took a short time and the Township Attorney despite a meek letter defending the town - caved in too easily and got steamrolled by the applicant. Clearly, he had instructions to let the Township lose this one....

The Master Plan is now blowing up in flames and the Township Committee is sitting there with their pants at their ankles. 

See this clip from 12/7/17 where this exact scenario was predicted.

See this email which was sent to the Township in 2017 predicting this situation. 

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Category: General