By DON STINE
A formal complaint charging that Ocean Township is not following its Master Plan by allowing development of a 32-acre tract at Route 35 and Deal Road will be heard in Superior Court on Fri., July 20.
Peter Jungkunst and his wife, Jacqui Wenzel, filed the complaint on behalf of the Save 32-Acres grassroots movement to preserve this site. Superior Judge Dennis R. O’Brien, will hear the argument in Freehold with the time of the hearing to be announced today, July 19.
“We are hoping people turn out because we feel we have a very strong case,” Wenzel said.
Mayor Chris Siciliano said he could not comment on the issue because it was in litigation.
A current development proposal, by Paramount Realty, wants to build a 112-room Marriott Hotel, a Wawa gas station and convenience store, a fitness center, and a Turning Points restaurant along the Route 35 corridor with 70 upscale townhouses on the eastern portion of the site.
The site was originally called the Terner Tract and the historic, more-than-200-year-old Eden Woolley House was removed from the tract in 2005 to Joe Palaia Park, where it is now the Township of Ocean Historical Museum.
“Ocean Township, through its Mayor, City Council and Planning Board, have been rezoning the remaining 32 acres of the Terner Tract for over two decades with perfunctory regard for the procedural requirements of the Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL) and minimal regard for the desires of the residents living adjacent to the site and within the broader community,” the complaint said.
The Ocean Township couple said the complaint was filed to hold the township accountable and demand that they follow the procedures required by the MLUL and principles of fundamental fairness. They seek to compel the defendants to rezone the property in a manner that is consistent with the vision set forth in the 1990 Master Plan.
The original master plan called for 13 acres of low-impact commercial development, like a professional office building, and 40 single-family homes along Deal Road.
“We originally filed the complaint and then the township sent a letter to the judge asking it be dismissed. We feel have a valid argument which is why we are before the judge,” Wenzel said.
Wenzel said she believes all zoning changes on the property have not gone through proper channels to update Master Plan over the years.
“They haven’t done an overall revision of the Master Plan in 28 years, not since 1990,” she said. “I am hoping we go to trial and feel we have a very strong case.”
For more information on the preservation effort go to save32acres.org.