Millburn Board of Adjustment Stop & Shop Hearings Could Face Delay Due to Board Member’s Resignation--Township Committee May Act on Replacement This Tuesday
Saturday, March 2, 2013 • 6:55am
MILLBURN, NJ—Last week’s resignation of board of adjustment member Roger Manshel could put off further a decision on the application by Stop & Shop to build a 68,000 square foot store on the Millburn Avenue site of the former Saks Fifth Avenue,
The company has received Springfield and county approval for its site plan and now is seeking the okay from Millburn’s zoning board because a 20-foot strip of the property along the avenue is within township borders.
Hearings on the proposal already have gone on for several board of adjustment meetings over a number of months.
With Manshel’s resignation the seven-member board normally would have been down to six members. However, both board chairman Joseph Steinberg and vice chairman Michael Parlavecchio have recused themselves from the hearings. That leaves only four members to vote on the Stop & Shop application.
When asked about the resignation, Stephen Reid, a community relations representative for Stop & Shop, said, “As with any development application, having a fully constituted land use board is important to Stop & Shop and that at the present we are awaiting further direction from the Board on scheduling issues, as well as information relating to appointment of a new Board member to fill Mr. Manshel’s term.”
In an email to The Alternative Press on Thursday Millburn Mayor Sandra Haimoff said the Millburn Township Committee has received letters of interest from two possible replacements for Manshel. She added the committee may take action on the appointment at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday, March 5.
However, what is not clear, is whether the new zoning board member, who will not have sat on the board for any of the previous hearings, would be qualified to vote on the Stop & Shop application or whether a review of the transcripts of those hearings by the new member would be sufficient.
Also, should the new member not be qualified to vote on the Stop & Shop matter and there only are four members qualified to vote it is not clear who would break a 2-2 tie should the vote come out that way. Referring questions about the tie vote and whether the new member would be qualified to vote on the Stop & Shop matter to board of adjustment attorney Gail Fraser, Reid said, “It is our understanding pursuant to state law that any new member would be qualified and eligible to vote on the application providing that he/she either listened to all of the tapes of the hearings conducted on the matter or read the transcripts of same and then certified that he/she had in fact completed that task.”
Neither Fraser nor Millburn Zoning Officer Eileen Davitt, who also serves as secretary to the board, returned telephone calls from The Alternative Press seeking comments on these questions.
Stephen Barcan, the attorney for Village Supermarkets, which operates ShopRite of Springfield, an opponent of the Stop & Shop application, did not return a telephone call seeking comment on the Manshel resignation and its implications.
Barcan has been quoted as saying Manshel should have recused himself from the Stop & Shop hearings because he had already made up his mind about the case.