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12/12/07

Decision delayed once again on North Bruns. farm's fate

By RICHARD KHAVKINE
Staff Writer

NORTH BRUNSWICK — A decision on the fate of the 70-acre Pulda farm has again been postponed.

A ruling on a motion by attorneys representing the defendant, Edgewood Properties, that seeks documents from a citizens group fighting to preserve the farm as open space has been pushed back. The motion was scheduled to be heard today in Monmouth County Superior Court, where the case was transfered in January. A new hearing date has not yet been set.

This is the fourth such motion by attorneys for Edgewood, Jack Morris' Piscataway-based development company.

Attorneys for Edgewood are seeking 21 documents related to a purported verbal settlement between the parties.

The plaintiffs and their attorney, Stuart Lieberman, though, have said that turning over the documents would compromise attorney-client privileges.

While an initial motion resulted in plaintiffs' attorneys turning over some documents, two subsequent motions have since been denied.

The citizens group initiated a lawsuit challenging a 2004 township action that amended North Brunswick's master plan to allow for redevelopment of the Pulda Farm into an age-restricted housing complex of about 325 units. Prior to that change, the farm was designated for low-density residential and recreational uses.

The citizens group said the proposal was put forward without significant enough input from residents. The complaint, filed over three years ago, contends that the rezoning ordinance did not comply with normal procedures for adopting zoning ordinances.

The group said that in addition to ridding the township of its last pristine piece of property, the development would worsen traffic jams on Route 130 and unnecessarily burden Farrington Lake, which borders the property.

A state Appellate Court in January found that a Middlesex County trial court did not have sufficient evidence to have approved a purported settlement between Morris and the nonprofit group, Residents Allied Against High Density Housing.

The appellate panel also ruled that the case be heard in Monmouth County Superior Court since one of the attorneys for Morris and Edgewood, Doug Wolfson, is a former Middlesex County Superior Court judge.

The January ruling in effect reinstated the lawsuit brought by the ad hoc residents' group.

The suit also names the township's council and planning board as defendants.