A Superior Court judge last week dismissed a formal complaint charging that Ocean Township was not living up to its Master Plan by allowing development of a 32-acre tract at Route 35 and Deal Road.
Peter Jungkunst and his wife, Jacqui Wenzel, filed the complaint on behalf of the Save 32-Acres grassroots movement to preserve the site. Judge Dennis R. O’Brien, seated in Freehold, ruled on the complaint.
Mayor Christopher Siciliano said he believes the court thought the township and Planning Board officials acted properly in the past.
“I never thought that was a question. We never acted improperly. Some people may not like our zoning but it is consistent with the Master Plan,” he said.
The complaint stated, “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 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, and ultimately, 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.
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.
Wenzel said she believes O’Brien dismissed the case primarily due to procedural issues rather than merit. She said that transcripts, minutes and other documents were not provided as needed.
“But we will appeal. It will be the same complaint but with more legal documents. We are in the process of pulling the appeal together now,” she said.
Wenzel said she would like to hire a land use attorney, but funding remans an issue.
“But we are following a timeline and we will get everything in,” she said.