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Feb. 14, 2008

Did the DOT miss a detail?

Alyssa Passeggio
The Courier

According to a Highlands grassroots organization, both state and local officials not only dismissed the public's opinion regarding the Route 36 bridge replacement, but they allegedly broke the law.

The Citizens for Rational Coastal Development (CRCD) are currently involved in lawsuits against the New Jersey Department of Transportation, including an application for a stay on the state agency's replacement of the Route 36 bridge.

The NJDOT awarded a $124 million project to replace the 35-foot Highlands drawbridge with a 65-foot fixed span bridge during December 2007.

In the recent lawsuit, the CRCD noted that former Mayor Richard O'Neil signed a deed for a property near Bahr's Landing Restuartant, Block 39, lots 17 and 17.01, to be transferred to the NJDOT. However, an accompanying borough ordinance or resolution could not be found by press time. The borough document was a stated requirement on the deed, according to the court brief.

The brief states that the NJDOT claims to have already owned the property, which it obtained in August 2007. However, the county tax records show that the borough owned the land up until 2007.

A responding brief had not been filed by press time. O'Neil could not comment on the ordinance by press time.