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Sunday, September 08, 2002

Edison homeowners sue over ballfields

Star-Ledger Staff - Middlesex County

Residents of a new housing development in Edison have filed a lawsuit after the township began digging up neighboring woods to build fields for a youth football league.
In the lawsuit, filed Friday in Superior Court in New Brunswick, members of the Winding Brook Residents Association say they were told when purchasing their homes that the wooded area would remain as open space.

Instead, as some residents were moving into their homes, bulldozers began clearing the site to provide fields for the Shamrocks Youth Football League, which draws from the North Edison area.
The siting and construction of a field for the Shamrocks has been an issue before the Edison Township Council for several years. Last month, when the residents asked Mayor George Spadoro to intervene to stop the removal of trees, he described the construction as "probably the most open decision we've made."

But the suit, filed by attorney Stuart Lieberman of Princeton, said the "use of public funds for private club purposes violates state law and also the state Green Acres program."
The lawsuit also contends there are wetlands on the property that provide a habitat for the wood turtle, a threatened species in New Jersey.

Edison officials did not respond to requests for comment on Friday, but have said previously that the township followed the law in deciding where to put the football fields and awarding contracts for them.

Spadoro said there appears to be a separate issue of whether residents moving into the development were fully informed of the pending field construction before they bought their homes.
Joe Tyrrell covers Edison. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (732) 634-6482.

Copyright 2002 The Star-Ledger.