Superior Court Affirms Summit's Denial of Overlook Helipad Project
Thursday, February 21, 2013 • 7:00pm
To the Editor:
We are thrilled to be able to report to you that Judge Karen Cassidy of the Superior Court of New Jersey has affirmed Summit’s denial of the Overlook helipad project.
Judge Cassidy held that the Summit Zoning Board was not arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable in its 2010 decision turning down the hospital’s request for a variance in order to construct a rooftop helipad. Rejecting Atlantic Health’s arguments that the Zoning Board acted improperly, she found that the decision was validly made upon the evidence and the law.
This is a significant victory. Overlook insisted that the Zoning Board’s decision reflected only parochial interests and that it should be overturned by an independent arbiter outside of the community. Now a highly respected, N.J. Superior Court judge has heard the case and found that the Board’s patient process—18 hearings, many witnesses and reams of evidence—was sound. Judge Cassidy noted in her opinion the overwhelming 6-1 vote finding that the benefit to Overlook would have been minimal but that the detriment to our community would have been significant.
So what happens now? Atlantic Health continues to have at least one, and possibly two, avenues to continue its case. It could further appeal the Zoning Board and court decision, this time to the appellate division of New Jersey. It also may try to use a recent case in which the New Jersey Department of Transportation granted a helipad over a municipal and court rejection. We believe that the city and our group will continue to win if Atlantic Health pursues either or both of these courses.
But must this continue? The community has spoken, clearly. The city has spoken, clearly. Now a court has spoken, clearly. At this point, continued legal action by Atlantic Health can only be seen as bullying of Summit and its residents. We call on Atlantic Health to heed the wishes of the community it so strenuously purports to value. Of all the ways Overlook could support the health care needs of the area, must it continue down the one path that actually hurts its own neighbors? We hope not.
As always, we will keep you updated on any developments. If Overlook does continue to pursue a helipad, there will of course be new legal costs. More than two years after our last fundraising drive, and with this successful outcome, we hope we can count on all of you again to come together to protect our neighborhood.
Please let us know if you have any questions, and thank you for your continued support.
Citizens Against the Helipad