Resident’s complaint claims property value will suffer

Staff Writer

By paul godino

Resident’s complaint claims
property value will suffer

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — Ad-ditional action in a complaint filed by a resident against a developer and the Plan-ning Board is expected in February.

Attorney Ronald L. Lueddeke, acting on behalf of Albert Lownes, of Bergerville Road, recently filed a complaint against the Planning Board and developer Toll Brothers.

Lownes’ complaint centers on the location of a sewer pump station and detention basin associated with Toll Brothers’ planned Riviera at Freehold age-restricted community planned for construction at Jackson Mills and Bergerville roads. Lownes claims the close proximity of the sewer pump station and detention basin to his residence will detract from his quality of life and the property value of his home.

In early January, state Superior Court Judge Florence R. Peskoe, sitting in Freehold, lifted a temporary restraint that had been placed on Toll Brothers, keeping the firm from moving forward with that portion of the project. Peskoe lifted the restraint because of a failure to state a cause of action.

Attorney Francis Accisano, representing the Freehold Township Planning Board, said Toll Brothers’ proposal meets all of the requirements set forth by municipal ordinances. He said once an applicant meets the requirements, the applicant is entitled to approval.

"If it’s conforming, we really cannot turn them down," Accisano said.

During the course of Planning Board public hearings on the Riviera at Freehold application, Lownes expressed his concerns about the location of the detention basin and the sewer pump station.

In response to those concerns representatives of Toll Brothers agreed to meet with him at his residence to discuss a more satisfactory location for the facilities. Following that meeting, Toll Brothers moved the sewer pump station and detention basin to an area it believed would be less disruptive to Lownes.

According to the complaint, Lownes claims he did not receive a relocation plan as promised by Toll Brothers, prior to a certain Planning Board meeting. He states he was not satisfied with the relocation of the sewer pump station and the detention basin.

Lownes "was both shocked and upset to receive the proposed plan," the complaint states. "The relocation plan for the proposed sewer pumping station and detention basin was arguably no better than the original plan."

Lownes is seeking monetary damages to cover the claimed loss of property value.

Attorney Gerald Sonnenblick, who represents Toll Brothers, said his client had done nothing wrong to begin with. He said Toll Brothers went out of its way to move the sewer pump station and detention basin further from Lownes’ house, even though the firm was not required to do so.

Following the relocation of the sewer pump station and detention basin in Toll Brothers’ plans, Planning Board members said they believed the relocation of the facilities were reasonable and should address Lownes’ concerns.

His complaint says otherwise.

"Contrary to a finding by the (Planning Board) that the relocation of the sewer pump station and detention basin will not adversely impact the value of plaintiff’s residence, plaintiff contends the location of these improvements will have a substantial and adverse impact on (his) property value as well as (the) beneficial use and enjoyment of (the) property," the complaint states.

Lownes charges that the board’s actions were "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable" and that Toll Brothers "did deliberately mislead and deceive plaintiffs."

Toll Brothers and the Planning Board have filed motions to dismiss the complaint. The case is expected to continue in late February.

Riviera at Freehold is an age-restricted community planned for the intersection of Bergerville and Jackson Mills roads. The application was approved by the Planning Board in October.