UNION BEACH – The fight over whether or not the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority can construct a 1.5-megawatt, 262-foot high wind turbine at its facility in Union Beach has reached a temporary standstill.
The BRSA was scheduled to be heard before the Union Beach Planning Board this past Tuesday, however, the hearing was canceled on Monday after a New Jersey Appellate Court judge granted a stay on the order from a trial court judge on April 1 that the hearing take place.
The stay is subject to review by one or more Appellate Court judges.
Discussions between the BRSA and the Union Beach Borough Council began in December 2008. Since then, the BRSA contends that they have held proper and sufficient public hearings on the proposed project while the borough council has charged that he hearings lacked adequate transparency. In 2009 the borough adopted an ordinance that would limit and restrict wind turbines within the borough. In May 2010, Monmouth County Superior Court Judge John R. Tassini issued an order enjoining the Borough of Union Beach, “from enforcing or taking any action under its ordinance regarding the permitting, installation, construction, or prohibition” of the BRSA wind turbine project. Therefore, in August 2010, the BRSA filed an application with the Union Beach Planning Board to subdivide a portion of property owned by its neighbor, JCP&L because the blades of the turbine, which reach 380-feet at peak height, would exceed the BRSA property line.
Since May 2010, the Union Beach Borough Council has been openly and publicly opposed to the construction of the wind turbine.
The BRSA reached an agreement with JCP&L to acquire a crescent-shaped parcel of land from the JCP&L property that equaled approximately .5 acres.
BRSA proposed consolidating the parcel into its property to the planning board.
The planning board denied the application on the grounds that the BRSA needed to apply for a ‘d’ variance due to a conflict of zoning and did not do so in its application.
The planning board determined that the JCP&L property was located in a Heavy Industrial Zone while the BRSA property was located in a Residential Zone and a subdivision would “create a split zone property, which is not desirable.”
The planning board believed that the application should be heard before the zoning board and dismissed the application.
In January 2011, the BRSA filed suit against the Union Beach Planning Board and on April 1, 2011, a trial court judge ruled that the planning board was mistaken in its assessment and remanded the case to the planning board.
The trial court found that the zoning map was in error and that both properties were located in the same zone according to the attorney representing Union Beach, Stuart Lieberman of Lieberman & Blecher.
“After the (April 1) decision we asked for an injunction from the Appellate court and part of that relief was to stay the hearing before the planning board,” Lieberman said.
“So far we’ve gotten a stay from one judge. That is subject to review by the full panel.”
“Once that is done they can either continue the stay until the appeal is concluded or dissolve the stay and allow the planning board hearing to go forward,” Lieberman added.
Lieberman noted that there are a myriad of possibilities that could be forthcoming as part of the Appellate Court review but that continuing the stay or dissolving the stay are the most straightforward.
“So far we’ve been granted a stay, putting everything on hold while they review it,” Lieberman said. “The issue right now is whether the stay will continue.”
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