2005: The year Upper Freehold planned for its future


Staff Writer

UPPER FREEHOLD — A month-to-month summary of all that happened in Upper Freehold last year reveals that most matters involved planning and development. Here’s a list of some of the most important stories from 2005.


For the first time in memory, the vote for mayor on the all-Republican Township Committee was not unanimous. Both Committeemen Stephen Alexander and David Horsnall voted against Sal Diecidue’s mayoralty, which passed by a 3-2 vote. Diecidue said he did not perceive the split vote as evidence of a rift in the all-Republican committee.

Diecidue, 42, said when he first ran in 2003 he would entertain having township zoning at more than 4 acres.

“And I still believe that,” Diecidue said at the beginning of last year.

Newcomer Stephen Fleischacker was sworn in as a committeeman, while William Miscoski was appointed deputy mayor. Members of the Planning Board voted to have Richard Stern as its chairman, and to have Daniel VanVoorhis as its vice chairman.

The Upper Freehold Regional School District successfully negotiated with Crosswicks Farms to purchase land for the approved construction of a 32-classroom middle school on Ellisdale Road. Voters had approved a $38.9 million building referendum in December 2004.

Residents were told in January that they would receive a letter about property revaluation.


The Township Committee appointed a new township planner, Mark Remsa, whose offices are in Mount Laurel. The township also hired resident Richard Bentz, a board-certified tree expert who has 20 years of forestry experience as the state’s forester.

Robert Connelly, who had served as the district’s superintendent for five years, told the Board of Education that he would step down in September.

The township’s Economic Development Committee discussed the historic hamlet of Imlaystown and passed a resolution requesting that the Township Committee engage its engineering firm to come up with some solutions to the area’s sanitary and water deficiencies.


After first discussing the matter earlier in the year, the Township Committee decided it would wait to pass code-of-ethics and antinepotism ordinances. Diecidue said he was not in favor of a code-of-ethics ordinance, and that in other towns such an ordinance had been used to ruin people.


The Township Committee unanimously voted to pass a $6.8 million 2005 municipal budget. Homeowners with a house assessed at the township’s average of $252,400 were told they would pay about $7,771 in taxes this year. However, residents were also told that amount could change as a result of the ongoing property revaluation.

During the Board of Education elections, residents voted newcomers Joseph Stampe and Christopher Shaw into the two open board seats. Stampe and Shaw bested incumbent Tia McLaughlin, Lisa Herzer and Joseph Toscano in the election. Voters also approved a $28.8 million school budget. The school tax levy would amount to approximately $2 million for Allentown residents, and $11.4 million for Upper Freehold residents.


The Local Finance Board fined the deputy mayor $500 for violating a state ethics law with regard to a vote on an open space bond ordinance in September 2002. The ordinance that Miscoski voted on affected properties including a 51-acre parcel owned by his mother, Ellen Miscoski, and his sister and brother-in-law, Kathleen and Kenneth Horner, who are also partners with Miscoski in the Cream Ridge Golf Club. If Miscoski did not vote on the matter, Upper Freehold Township may not have received a $2 million bond for open space.

Miscoski and Berzinski both filed charges after a reported incident occurred at Marge’s Deli on May 10. Both men reportedly exchanged words, and Berzinski — who ran against Miscoski in the 2004 municipal election and lost — alleged that Miscoski spit in his face. Municipal Court Judge Debra Gelson, sitting in Millstone Township on May 13, reviewed Berzinski’s affidavit and decided that it lacked probable cause. She then dismissed all charges.

The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders decided not to purchase the Cream Ridge Golf Club as open space. James Truncer, director of the Monmouth County Board of Recreation Commissioners, said the county did not have the money to buy the golf course. Miscoski, who is one of the owners of the golf course, said he and his family exhausted every avenue of preservation for their land.

“Now we are forced to speak to developers,” he said.


Republican voters in the June 7 primary overwhelmingly chose David Reed as candidate for the Upper Freehold Township Committee. Reed received 601 votes, while his opponent, John Masserini, garnered 287.

The Board of Education appointed Lisa Herzer to fill the Board of Education position vacated by Frank Skube, who served one term on the board and decided to move out of the area.

Township officials said they may have to change the middle school site and its surrounding area to a Planning Area 2 designation. The change would also affect the Commerce Park business complex and the Heritage Green, Four Seasons and Grande at Old York developments, and would allow for the creation of public sewers in those areas. Later in the year, officials would start talking about expanding Allentown’s village designation to properties up to and including the new middle school property.


The deputy mayor vowed that vandals who damaged facilities at Byron Johnson Park would be caught. Miscoski said vandalism has been an ongoing problem at the municipal park and sports facility, located on Ellisdale Road.

Large landowners honored a voluntary moratorium on subdividing that Committeemen Fleischacker and Miscoski proposed during their bid for seats on the governing body in 2004. However, the Planning Board heard two large development plans earlier in the year.

A study presented by the township planner at the Planning Board’s Sept. 27 meeting stated that there are approximately 10,816 acres of developable land left in the township.

A legal battle erupted regarding the Cream Ridge Golf Course. The deputy mayor along with the other owners of the golf course filed a complaint in Monmouth County Superior Court, Freehold, against the township’s Planning Board attorney, Frank Armenante, who leased restaurant space on the golf course from the golf course’s owners.

The owners of the course sought a judgment in an amount exceeding $1 million, claiming that they could not sell the golf course to developers because of the ambiguous nature of the right of first refusal and sale of the property clauses contained in the lease agreement with the restaurant. Armenante wrote the lease agreement.

The Planning Board approved a subdivision of the middle school property and discussed an environmental cleanup of the parcel. Although there is minor pesticide contamination on the tract, officials said, the school would not be placed on the area that is contaminated.


Candidates for the one available Township Committee seat saw growth as the biggest issue facing the township. To control growth, Democrat Marc Covitz said the township needs to adopt a zoning change to a minimum of 6 acres. Republican Reed, a sod farmer, said he could sit with farmers and large landowners and convince them of the benefits of farmland preservation in terms of managing growth.


The Township Committee approved an application for a $250,000 Monmouth County open space matching grant for new park facilities on Wygant Road.

In the elections, Reed bested Covitz, 1,470 to 817, for the Township Committee seat.

The Upper Freehold Regional School District started analyzing why its Scholastic Aptitude Test scores declined in 2005.


The Planning Board voted in favor of new affordable housing regulations, which would allow the creation of 100 affordable rental apartments at the Commerce Park business complex on Breza Road.