EDGEWATER -- The zoning board dismissed an application for a mixed-use complex on the former site of a Hess Corp. terminal, saying the developer did not appear at several meetings.
According to a resolution passed by the Zoning Board of Adjustment on Jan 3., developer 615 River Road Partners, which is in litigation with the borough, did not appear at two special and two regular meetings, did not respond to questions raised in the review of its application and didn't provide dates to meet with the board's professionals, so the board had no choice but to dismiss the application.
The application was scheduled for a hearing at the Jan. 3 meeting, but the developer did not attend and make a presentation.
The developer wanted to build a 1,873-unit mixed use complex with five residential towers and 60,000 square feet of retail, which requires variances through the zoning board. The borough, which has been trying to acquire the property, intends to use the 18.7-acre waterfront site for its Department of Public Works, a garage, a park and recreation space.
Thomas Ammirato, a spokesman for the developer, said the zoning board has asked 615 River Road Partners for information that normally would not be required until further along in the application process, and the board did not provide evidence that this information was required of other applicants.
"It is apparent that the Board's continued stonewalling of 615 Partners' variance applications is purposeful and consistent with Edgewater's overall strategy regarding 615 Partners' proposed development -- to kill the project by any means necessary," attorney Brian Chewcaskie said in a statement.
The developers, in a release, stated the zoning board's hearing process was a "sham," and said they intend to "seek a fair hearing" in federal court, referring to a lawsuit filed last month, which alleges that officials had taken favors and money from developer Fred Daibes to act against the Hess site application and to favor Daibes' developments elsewhere on River Road.
Frank Regan, an attorney working as special counsel for the zoning board in this case, could not be reached for comment.
Mayor Michael McPartland last month characterized the lawsuit as "wrong and defamatory" and denied the allegations.
In 2016, a Superior Court judge dismissed a claim by the developer that it was entitled to automatic approval because of missed deadlines by the Edgewater zoning board. The borough argued that the proposal was incomplete.
The developer then submitted two new proposals mirroring the initial proposal, which have not yet been heard before the zoning board.
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