LINCROFT: FOUR PONDS PLAN HEADS TO COURT

The Middletown Planning Board last year rejected a proposal for 342 homes on the site of a former Avaya office building. (Photo by Joe Fisher. Click to enlarge)

By JOE FISHER

Organizers of last year’s successful battle in Middletown to stop a 342-unit housing development on a former Avaya corporate offices site are girding for round two: a court appeal by the developer.

In opposing the plan, a group that dubs itself SONIC, for Save Our Neighborhood’s Integrity and Character, hired an attorney and expert witnesses, who argued that Four Ponds Center Associate’s application to the township planning board would adversely impact local traffic, the township school system, and the need to expand sewer capacity at the expense of neighbors.

After a year of hearings, the board rejected the application 9-0 last June, citing testimony of those witnesses as a major factor in the denial.

In its appeal, Four Ponds contends the planning board did not have the authority to reject the application, arguing that it complied with municipal zoning codes adopted for the property.

Four Ponds’ appeal was the subject of a conference meeting earlier this month with attorneys and state Superior Court Judge Paul Kapalko. “It just really was a procedural meeting,” said Red Bank attorney Ron Gasiorowski, who represented SONIC before the planning board and has been retained to fight the appeal.

SONIC spent $60,000 for the services of Gasiorowski and three expert witnesses, said Jeffrey Blumengold, a Lincroft resident and founding SONIC member.

In a letter to area residents, Blumengold is seeking more contributions to finance SONIC’s fight against Four Ponds’ appeal.

“Obviously, such legal action requires time and money,’’ Blumengold wrote.  “My colleagues and I will contribute both of these.  We ask you to show your support for our common cause.  During the remainder of the appeal, should any discussions ensue as to a proposed settlement, such as re-sizing the proposed community, Mr. Gasiorowski will represent SONIC, and the community will benefit.’’

The rejected Four Ponds application sought to build 342 townhouse and apartment dwellings on 68 acres along Middletown-Lincroft Road. The plan called for 64 low- and moderate-income units and 278 market-rate units.

SONIC plans an informational meeting for residents next Thursday, at 7 p.m., at Brookdale Community College, in the Main Academic North (MAN) building, room 105.