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Belmar In Court Last Friday

Oral arguments were heard before Katie Gummer last Friday afternoon on the outstanding motions in two lawsuits against the Borough.  There was one in the DeSanctis suit and three remaining issues in the Susko case.  I have some information provided to me by a witness to the proceedings.

William Northgrave represented the Borough.  Ken Pringle and Denise O’Hara of Pringle-Quinn were there for the plaintiffs.

At issue in the DeSanctis case was whether Belmar violated the civil rights of the plaintiffs…all of them Belmar voters and all of them members of the committee of petitioners in the petition against the pavilion bond…when it submitted a misleading explanatory statement for last year’s pavilion bond referendum, a statement that was intended not to explain the issue to the voters, but rather to influence their decisions.  Furthermore, the ballot statement was never approved by a vote of the Council.  (Nobody was ever told that there was even going to be an explanatory statement and if Ms. DeSanctis hadn’t called Freehold  to ask if anything had been submitted we wouldn’t have known about it until it was too late to stop.)

As we all know, Gummer ordered the Borough to recall the illegally worded ballots and publish new ones absent the biased language, but if she finds that the Borough’s actions violated the civil rights of the plaintiffs under the New Jersey Civil Rights Act, then the plaintiffs are entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees.  And of course politically it’s not very good to be found by a judge to be a civil rights violator.

In the Susko case, Gummer had already ruled last year that the Borough’s plan to use Buy-a-Board Funds, FEMA Reimbursement Funds and 10th Avenue Flood Insurance money to pay for the reconstruction of the Fifth Avenue Pavilion violated the Civil Rights Act.  On Friday Northgrave asked her to reconsider that decision.

Also heard Friday were arguments as to whether the Borough’s use of Beach Utility Fund proceeds to pay for entire amount of the Partners’ Litigation settlement amount violated the Public Trust Doctrine and the Beach Fee Statute, and whether those violations also constituted violations of the Civil Rights Act.

Finally arguments were heard about whether Ordinance 2015-15, the parking meter ordinance which doubled parking meter fees, violated the beach fee statute and public trust doctrine and hence should be invalidated.  Pringle and O’Hara also challenged the historical 60/40 (Beach/Borough) split of parking meter revenue, and argued that in light of the capability of the Borough’s electronic parking kiosk system to track exactly when and which spaces are used, the Borough should only be entitled to those parking meter fees that it can document relate to hours when the beach is closed, like in the evenings.  They also argued that the Borough must turn over to the beach utility the money the Borough has shortchanged the beach since 2013.  (The borough has admitted allocating less than the beach utility’s 60% historical share for the past three seasons.)

Again, the plaintiffs maintained that the Borough’s misallocation of beach related parking revenues violated the public trust doctrine and state beach fee laws and that the misallocation therefore constitutes a violation of the civil rights of beach goers.

Gummer stated that she tentatively plans to put her decision on the record Thursday morning at 8:45 but warned that it could be delayed because of her trial schedule.

Stay tuned.


  1. An Observation wrote:

    Well it seems the far left liberal mayor and council have struck out again, and it doesn’t look good for Bill Di Blasio either. Hey guys and girls don’t you think its time to do the right thing and stop deceiving the public, it seems the only one’s you are deceiving is yourselves.

    Sunday, May 8, 2016 at 11:36 am | Permalink
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Thank you David for providing such an explicit explanation of what occurred repeatedly in the Civil Rights violations case vs. BELMAR.

    Sunday, May 8, 2016 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

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