TOMS RIVER – It’s at least a temporary victory for residents of the Fairways at Lake Ridge adult community.
Attorneys for those homeowners, the developers of the Eagle Ridge Golf Course, and Lakewood Township’s Planning Board made their cases before Superior Court Assignment Judge Marlene Lynch Ford Tuesday afternoon, a mere few hours before the application for the development of the golf course was to be heard before the planning board.
Ford granted an interim restraint for 30 days, allowing the board to reschedule the development hearing for a March meeting.
An application to build more than 1,000 housing units on the golf course was to be presented to the board by Parke at Lakewood, an affiliate of GDMS Holdings LLC. They are represented by Paul H. Schneider of Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla in Red Bank.
Lakewood Planning Board attorney John J. Jackson had argued against the restraint, saying no one knows how the board would move forward on the application. It is “improper for the court to step in” before the board has even heard the application or sworn testimony.
The homeowners’ association is represented by Michele Donato, who is away for the month of February. In her stead for the court appearance was attorney Ronald L. Lueddeke.
“There is a substantial impact on the plaintiffs if they are not permitted to participate in a meaningful way tonight,” Ford said. “…I’m inclined at this point to restrain the hearing for a shortened period of time so it’s not an impact upon the applicant, but secondly to allow the homeowners to, who obviously have an interest in this, to have the opportunity to have a meaningful record developed to affirm their position.”
Historic Courtroom 1 at the county justice complex was not packed as anticipated. Less than 20 members of the public attended, most from the Fairways community.
The homeowners had filed suit against GDMS Holdings, Lakewood Township and its planning board over the proposed development.
In attendance was “the mouth” as one homeowner called him, Frederick Robison and his wife, Patricia, Fairways residents who have been vocal against the Parke at Lakewood. They were viciously attacked in their home back in August and spent months in the hospital and rehabilitation. “Rob,” as he is known, erupted into frequent coughs and spoke slowly and deliberately. Patricia seemed upbeat but said she tires easily.
“I think Judge Ford always considers both sides carefully and thoroughly, tends to argue with the attorneys for both sides. I think that month adjournment will provide us the opportunity to flesh out the arguments related to the merits of the entire case,” Rob Robison said.
Despite the attack, they plan to continue their fight.
“The reality is, the community deserves support. The community deserves to have an individual with my background and experience,” said Rob Robison, who was a city manager and municipal planner.