Two lawsuits filed by residents challenging the township’s financial agreement and $6.3 million in general obligation bonds for the Edison Village redeveloper were dismissed in state Superior Court.
In April, Residents Kevin Malanga and E. Michael Taylor sought to overturn an ordinance passed by the council in March to grant a 30-year tax exemption for the redeveloper, Prism Green Associates IV LLC.
The lawsuit was dismissed on July 27 in state Superior Court.
Malanga and Taylor challenged the township on multiple issues regarding the financial agreement. This was because instead of collecting taxes, the township will enter into a payment in lieu of taxes with the redeveloper, who agrees to pay a reduced amount in taxes to the township instead of regular estate taxes.
In court papers filed with the township, the plaintiff’s claimed the council’s vote was “arbitrary and capricious.” They claimed the council did not have enough information about the effects of the financial agreement on the township nor the effect the redevelopment would have on the town.
In addition, a lawsuit filed by other residents challenging the ordinance that allowed for the sale of $6.3 million in township backed bonds for infrastructure improvements in the downtown redevelopment area was also dismissed on June 22.
A group of residents, led by Mark Meyerowitz, Rosary Morelli and Windale Simpson, gathered more than 2,000 signatures in an attempt to bring the bond ordinance to a referendum.
The Superior Court ruled that the bond ordinance was not subject to state law governing referendums, according to a statement issued by the township.
The petition challenging the bond ordinance to bring the matter to a referendum was rejected twice by the township earlier this year.
The township’s legal fees were paid for by the redeveloper and not by the township, according to Mayor Robert Parisi.
Those who filed the lawsuits were not available for comment.
Parisi said he was not surprised by the outcome of either case.
“We were confident that we were very deliberate in the entire process,” said Parisi on Thursday. “There were several delays, and a lot of that had a lot to do with us trying to be very careful and cautious in making sure we were doing everything in accordance with the law.
“We were pretty confident that the court would rule the way it did.”
Parisi also added there are currently no other lawsuits filed against the township with regards to the redevelopment. However, he did not rule out the possibility of future appeals and other lawsuits.
“Right now we continue to be anxious to get this project started,” said Parisi. “I continue to believe it is good for the downtown and good for the township.”
The redevelopment is now stalled at the Planning Board. Changes to the site plan by the redeveloper have pushed the plan back to the Planning Board who must vote on the new plan.
The current plan is to build 334 luxury-style apartments in the old Edison Battery Building on Main Street for the first phase of the project. There will also be about 18,500 square feet of retail space and a parking garage that will hold 642 parking spaces.
The redeveloper will seek approval from the board at its Sept. 5 meeting at town hall at 8 p.m.