WALL TOWNSHIP — A developer, whose plans for a residential health-care facility were thwarted when Wall withdrew its initial support for the project, is now taking legal action against the township.
On April 29, Attorney Thomas F. Carroll of the firm Hill Wallack LLC filed a complaint against the Wall Township Committee and Planning Board on behalf of Bloomfield Venture LLC.
The legal action in state Superior Court challenges a March 23 Ordinance [No. 12-2022] that repealed a zone change for Bloomfield Venture’s property known as Hope Chapel.
The Hope Chapel property is at 5006 Marshall Road and 5008 Plainview Road, on former Baptist church property, located north of the Collingwood Circle.
The conceptual proposal for the site is a 190-unit single-room-occupancy, residential health-care facility that would support adults who might need assistance with such tasks as managing diabetes.
According to the amended court settlement agreement between Fair Share Housing Center and Wall Township signed on Dec. 18, 2019, Hope Chapel was expected to produce 149 affordable housing units.
Producing those units would require a zone classification of AH6. Ordinance 17-2020 would rezone the property from R30 to AH6, allowing the developer to produce the required units specified by the settlement agreement.
However, Ordinance 17-2020 required a developer’s agreement to become effective, which never happened. Instead, on March 23, the township adopted Ordinance 12-2022, nullifying the zone change before it was ever made effective by a developer’s agreement.
According to the legal complaint, Bloomfield Ventures was made aware that neighbors living near the subject property voiced concerns to the committee surrounding Hope Chapel, which supposedly led the township to scrap the project.
Owner of Bloomfield Venture LLC and Wall resident Joe Paytas refuted the comparison some residents made between the Collingwood apartment complex and the Hope Chapel project.
“The accusations that were made against the type of housing weren’t relevant. They were comparing it to Section 8. This is a level below assisted-living or a nursing home,” said Mr. Paytas.
“I really feel I didn’t have a chance to present it to the community. I think if you look at this as a Wall resident, there’s much to like; two-for-one credits; it doesn’t impact the school population; and we aren’t developing the whole property. We took an abandoned church to turn it into a viable tax-producing business.”
Township Administrator Jeff Bertrand wouldn’t comment specifically on the active litigation but said, “We believe that every action that the township took was proper and in the best interest of the residents of Wall Township.”
“We negotiated in good faith, and unfortunately the township is under a requirement to develop affordable housing, and we have to take the necessary actions in order to remain in compliance.”
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