Judge: Point Beach Parking Plan Can Continue For Now
Judge Grasso denies motion for injunction filed by marina, charter boats and GOP officials
A Superior Court judge ruled Friday afternoon that Point Beach can continue operating its new District 4 parking plan for now, denying a motion filed by a group suing the town.
State Superior Court Assignment Judge Vincent Grasso, sitting in Toms River, denied a request by a group of commercial charter boats, a marina and a small group of residents for an injunction to block the parking plan which restricts parking from midnight to 6 a.m. on municipal roads in District 4, said Municipal Attorney Sean Gertner.
Councilmember Kris Tooker, who was in Grasso's courtroom with some other municipal officials, said she was glad to hear the decision.
"I feel that we finally had a fair chance!" she said, a clear reference to the news one week ago that the state is blocking the town's effort to compel bars to stop serving alcohol by midnight.
Tooker, Mayor Vincent Barrella and Councilmembers Michael Corbally and Bret Gordon have been in favor of the pilot parking plan, while Councilmembers Tim Lurie, Stephen Reid and William Mayer have voted against it.
A full trial will follow to decide whether the parking plan should be allowed to continue for the rest of the summer.
The ordinance creating the parking plan will be in effect only until Sept. 10. If the council wants to revive it next year, it would have to introduce and adopt a new ordinance, which could include modifications.
The lawsuit was initially filed by John Jackson III, an attorney with the law firm of King, Kitrick and Jackson, LLC, 635 Duquesne Blvd., Brick. Jackson is president of the local Republican club and Marilyn Burke, one of the plaintiffs, is Republican club secretary.
However, recently, Ron Gasiorowski, who is also one of the attorneys often representing Jenkinson's and Martell's, has submitted briefs on the lawsuit and he was in court on Friday. He had worked on Jenkinson's and Martell's lawsuit against the parking plan.
The lawsuits allege that because the plan allows only residents and local taxpayers to park in District 4's metered spots between midnight and 6 a.m., it violates the Public Trust Doctrine, an underpinning of beach access laws that says members of the public should all have equal access to the waterways and beaches, regardless of where they live, according to the lawsuit.
Those filing the lawsuit are: Southside Marina, 311 Channel Dr., Point Beach; Purple Jet Fishing Charters, 407 Channel Dr., Point Beach; Golden Touch Charters Inc., 818 South St., Point Pleasant and John Cole of Golden Touch; David Riback, Niblick St.; Richard Fischer, 637 Susan Lane; Brielle; Robert Santanello, Central Avenue, Point Beach; and Rosemarie Iantosca, 205 New Jersey Avenue, Point Beach; the Miss Michele III commercial fishing boat and its captain, Ron Braen, a Brick Township police officer and resident.
The parking plan, which went into effect on June 22, restricts parking from midnight to 6 a.m. in District 4, except that District 4 residents and taxpayers get five parking placards that allow them to park there, and other residents get one placard.
Free parking is available in the Silver Lake parking lot on Arnold and Ocean avenues from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
District 4 Parking Tickets Require Court Appearances
Point Beach police have said that the District 4 parking tickets have no set amount for the fine. Police have said the tickets are "court-mandated summonses," which means those receiving tickets are mandated to appear in court, even if they would rather just plead guilty and mail in a check.
Police said the council has the power to decide to amend the ordinance to place this particular parking ticket on the municipal fee schedule. For example, it could become a $48 parking ticket, which is the typical fine for many of the other parking tickets issued in the municipality.
However Corbally said, "We will not amend the ordinance. We may have night court. It's a pilot program. We will have to work out the kinks after the summer if the council votes to continue the program in 2013."
He noted that Point Beach's jay walking tickets are also "court-mandated."
When asked about the parking tickets requiring court appearances, Councilmembers William Mayer and Stephen Reid said they had not known that was the case when the ordinance was adopted, they were not happy that had not been explained prior to the vote, and they do not agree with that.
A copy of the ordinance does not mention that it calls for "court-mandated summonses."
Point Beach's municipal court sessions are still held in Point Borough's Borough Hall on Bridge Avenue. Local governing bodies in both towns had agreed to move the Point Beach court back to its Borough Hall on New Jersey Avenue. However, that plan has not come to fruition yet.
Patch has emailed the mayor and other councilmembers to ask their opinions about the "court-mandated" nature of the parking plan and will continue to cover this issue as more information becomes available.