Hovsons Sues Manchester Over Land Purchase

(Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

MANCHESTER – The township is being sued over two recently adopted ordinances about a land purchase.

Hovsons has filed a civil suit in Superior Court and is asking that the two ordinances in question be struck down and not enforced. They are also seeking counsel fees and costs, and any other “relief” the court may see fit.

Hovsons, based out of Tinton Falls, is being represented by Michael K. Plumb, an attorney with Chiesa, Shahinian & Giantomasi PC in West Orange.

The township has not yet formally responded to the suit.

The ordinances in question are Nos. 18-024 and 18-025, which had a second reading and adoption Aug. 27. The ordinances paved the way for the township to purchase 20 Colonial Drive (Block 30, Lot 20) from Rockwoodpio, LLC, of Point Pleasant, a 1.24-acre parcel that sits across the street from the municipal complex and next to TD Bank.

The lot was purchased by Rockwoodpio back in 1988, according to public records.

The township will purchase the land for $135,000. Plumb argued in an Aug. 27 letter to the township that “the property owner merely asked the Township if it would buy the property for $135,000 and the Township agreed, apparently without conducting any due diligence.”

The letter further states that ordinances make no reference to an appraisal, or an investigation into whether the land is suitable for building on.

(Photo by Micromedia Publications)

A township official with knowledge of the case said an appraisal was completed. They would not elaborate further until the township formally filed its response.

Mayor Kenneth Palmer told The Manchester Times there are no immediate plans to develop that land, a point Plumb seized upon, stating that’s against N.J.S.A. 40A:12-3. The law states municipalities may make needed capital improvements; in this case, Plumb said, the township has not demonstrated a need.

Palmer told the newspapers that, as the township continues to grow, the need to expand town hall will only grow with it. Since they can no longer build up, they have to build out.

It’s likely the Manchester Township Police Department will eventually call that address home, or at least house some of its operations there, although again, the mayor said there are no immediate plans for an expansion.

Hovsons owns the 7,000-acre Heritage Minerals site, which it with the township has been trying to develop for years.