Larry Higgs of the Asbury Park Press has a story today about how new rules aimed at weeding out conflicts-of-interest at zoning and planning board meetings are being applied.
Does the fact that a board member works at a marina where a an applicant for a variance docks his boat mean the board member should recuse himself? How about when an applicant and a board member live on the same block?
New disclosure rules, adopted recently as an ordinance by the borough council, require corporate applicants to identify their individual principals, in part to enable board members to know who they’re dealing with, and whether a potential conflict of interest exists.
The rules were formulated in response to lawsuits, both filed by attorney Bill Meyer of Tinton Falls (and who owns a commercial building at 12 Monmouth Street). One of Meyer’s lawsuits, over the then-named BLT project at Monmouth, West and Oakland streets, resulted in an appeals court ruling that the zoning board should re-hear an application because the first go-round was tainted by a potential conflict.
Meyer told the Press that the new rules represent “an improvement. Is it perfect? No. Is it getting better? Yes.”