A local resident is suing the Bradley Beach Borough Council, saying it acted twice without giving proper public notice.
Thomas J. Coan wants the court to invalidate approval of a new contract for the borough’s police chief and an agreement with a Red Bank firm to produce the annual Memorial Day festival.
The suit was filed Jan. 5 in the law division of state Superior Court in Freehold on behalf of Coan by attorney Walter M. Luers of Clinton.
At this week’s Borough Council meeting, municipal attorney Michael DuPont said he had not seen a copy of the suit. He said that he did receive a letter from Luers expressing Coan’s concerns.
Coan said he had Luers file the suit because he did not receive a response to his letter. Coan, a real estate sales associate and former Manasquan councilman, told The Coaster that he had no problem with the police chief’s performance and did not have anything negative to say about Spark Market Solutions. He said he is trying to get the borough to adhere to its own ordinances.
“Bradley Beach has a unique ordinance, passed in 2008, that requires Bradley Beach’s officials to adhere to requirements regarding its meeting agendas that are greater than the requirements of the Open Public Meetings Act,” the suit says.
“As is clear from the plain language of this ordinance, the municipal clerk of Bradley Beach may only include matters on the agenda of a regular meeting of the council if they have been presented to the municipal clerk four business days prior to the regular meeting,” the suit continues. “In addition, the agenda must be made available to the council and to the public within three business days prior to any regular council meeting.”
The suit acknowledges that the council can add items to the agenda during the caucus meeting preceding the regular meeting.
At the council’s Dec. 13 meeting, Harvey Rosenberg, chairman of the Memorial Day Committee, asked that the proposal to hire Spark Market Solutions to
produce the festival be placed on the consent agenda.
Coan objected, saying that the item was not listed on the agenda prior to the meeting.
When Mayor Gary Engelstad asked DuPont if the item could be added to the consent agenda, DuPont responded that it could.
The consent agenda was approved by a 4-0 vote.
Coan’s suit also says that the council did not have legal authority when it approved a new contract for the borough’s police chief at its Nov. 22 meeting.
“One of the items on the consent agenda for that meeting was a new contract with Bradley Beach’s Chief of Police,” the suit says. “Prior to the Nov. 22 regular meeting, that item was removed from the consent agenda. However, the [council] entered into closed session and upon return to open session, voted to add the chief’s contract back onto the agenda.”
Coan says the council acted improperly because the vote to return the chief’s contract to the agenda did not take place during the caucus meeting preceding the regular meeting, as he says is required by the 2008 borough ordinance. According to the suit, borough attorney DuPont also stated on that occasion that the council had acted properly when it put the item back on the consent agenda, which was approved unanimously by the council.
During this week’s council meeting, an item was added to the consent agenda at the request of tax officials and subsequently passed by a 5-0 vote.
“They did it again tonight,” Coan said after the meeting.