UNION BEACH – The Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority has hired a Middletown lawyer to help in its legal fight against the borough.
Michael B. Steib will provide special counseling services to the authority at a rate of $130 an hour. The authority already retains the services of Louis E. Granata, based in Matawan, at $195 an hour.
“Michael B. Steib was hired for specialized legal services in connection with the planning and zoning issues and pending litigation of the wind-to-energy project. His expertise is in land use issues,” said Robert C. Fischer, the authority’s executive director.
Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority plans to install a wind turbine on its property despite legal setbacks. The turbine was to have been used to generate electricity to process waste water at its sewer treatment plant on Oak Street, here.
A foundation had been poured and components were ready to be delivered in July when the Appellate Division of state Superior Court in Trenton granted a restraining order on transportation and assembly of the turbine.
In August, it was ruled that the authority needed site plan approval from the borough Planning Board before it could install and operate the wind turbine.
The authority had unsuccessfully argued that the state, through its CAFRA permit, had exclusive jurisdiction and the project was not subject to local zoning ordinances.
Now, BRSA will be asking Union Beach to correct what Fischer has called a mapping error. The borough’s zoning map places the BRSA property in a residential zone. The Board of Adjustment has to consider whether that zoning is correct. If the map is correct, a use variance is needed to install and operate a wind turbine.
The authority also plans ask the Appellate Division to reconsider its findings regarding the zoning map.
In April 2011, the Law Division of the Superior Court ruled that the BRSA and the adjacent property were in the same industrial zone and the zoning map was in error, Fischer said.
“The claim by Union Beach that we were rezoned from industrial to residential has the potential to really drag this delay out, and the BRSA commissioners felt it was in everyone’s best interest to hire an expert in this field to minimize that potential. In the short term it represents an increase in legal fees since he will be assisting Mr. Granata,” Fischer said.
It is expected that the authority will appear before the next Planning Board meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31 in the council chambers of borough hall, Poole Avenue.
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