Inside Ocean County Government

Land Use, Long Beach Island

Atlantic GOP Chair Tapped to Fight Beach Haven Redevelopment Plan

BEACH HAVEN – A lawsuit challenging the borough’s redevelopment plan claims that the town government “palpably abused their discretionary authority” in passing the borough’s maritime district redevelopment plan and scheduled meetings in a manner designed to limit public input.

Davis, an attorney who is the Atlantic County Republican chairman, has been retained to represent a group of residents & property owners – Ken Goldmann, Judie Goodlife, Bill Moreno, Sharon Marie Davis, Dennis & Christine Dennis – who are suing to invalidate the borough’s approval of changes that would allow additional development under Beach Haven’s redevelopment plan.

Keith Davis

At issue in the lawsuit is ordinance 2018-34, which amended the borough’s maritime district redevelopment plan, which authorizes the construction of a new 102-unit hotel, among other changes.

From Beach Haven Ordinance 2018-34

Another provision of the controversial ordinance that the lawsuit is seeking to strike down calls for exempting the redevelopment area from impervious coverage and drainage requirements.

Davis contends in court filings that this portion of the ordinance is inconsistent with the borough’s master plan and violated the New Jersey Stormwater Management Act.

“There is no rational basis to eliminate drainage requirements affecting a hotel commerical development when every other commercial development in the Borough is legally required to adhere to such obligations,” he wrote, alleging that this regulatory scheme “…unlawfully applies ordinance drainage requirements in an uneven and unequal manner.”

“Allowing the unchecked development of such a project, without adequate Borough oversight and clear development standards, threatens the use and enjoyment of the Plaintiffs’ property and the community as a whole,” he wrote.

“Rushed Through” Day Before Thanksgiving

Davis also alleges that borough officials intentionally scheduled public meetings to limit opposition from members of the public, deliberately scheduling one meeting to take place the day before Thanksgiving.

From court papers

“There was no reason for the public to know that the Land Use Board would be revisiting this ordinance,” he wrote.

“Instead the actions by the Land Use Board in revisiting the issue without proper public notice is indicative of the Defendants’ behavior throughout this process. They have attempted to push through drastic amendments to the Redevelopment Plan, to the detriment of residents, without any consideration to the concerns of Plaintiffs.”

Another concern cited in the lawsuit was the speed with which the changes to the plan have been adopted by borough officials. According to a copy of the complaint filed in December, the initial redevelopment plan was adopted about 6 months prior to the changes approved in the ordinance.

“There has been no testimony concerning why this sudden and drastic change of the Redevelopment Plan should be instituted so soon after the Redevelopment Plan’s initial passing,” Davis wrote in court papers.

Citing “manifest injustice,” the plaintiffs are seeking a court order that the borough’s actions taken to amend the plan were “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable” and declaring ordinance 2018-34 null and void as a matter of law.

“Defendant Beach Haven, through the action of its Governing Body, palpably abused their discretionary authority, in that the actions taken in adopting the Amendment to the Redevelopment Plan was arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable and/or otherwise wrongful.”

The Borough of Beach Haven has yet to file a response to the lawsuit. A stipulation was filed with the court on January 18th that gives the borough an additional 30 days to respond to the allegations in the suit. Their response is due on March 12th, 2019.

There was some discussion from residents, including one of the plaintiffs, about their concerns at recent council meetings. You can hear their remarks in the video below:

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