Point Beach Wins on Parking Plan, But Gets Sued Again on Bar Closings
Mayor says at council meeting, "I won't be intimidated by lawsuits."
A group including a marina, fishing boats and Point Beach residents failed for the second time to convince a court to temporarily put the brakes on the town's new parking plan.
Meanwhile, boardwalk businesses have filed their second legal action against the town's effort to close bars at midnight.
This time, Jenkinson's and Martell's have filed a lawsuit in Superior Court, which follows an appeal to the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).
That's not to be confused with the lawsuit the two largest boardwalk businesses filed to fight the District 4 parking plan.
For anyone keeping score, so far, it's Boardwalk 1, Point Beach 2.
The Boardwalk win was getting an injunction to be allowed to stay open until 2 a.m. until ABC makes a final decision on whether the town should be allowed to close bars at midnight.
As for Point Beach's score, it fended off two boardwalk efforts to try to get "a stay" on the enforcement of the District 4 parking plan.
And the battles and controversy rage on.
Mayor Vincent Barrella, at Tuesday night's council meeting, said he will not be intimidated by lawsuits.
"I won't be intimidated, I won't be harassed and attempts to intimidate me won't be productive," he said.
Regarding the lawsuit filed by the marina and fishing boats, the Appellate Division of Superior Court signed an order on Tuesday upholding Superior Court Assignment Judge Vincent Grasso's decision to not force the town to postpone enforcment of the District 4 parking plan.
The town has been issuing tickets since June 22, but has not yet collected any fines because Municipal Court Judge Liguori has said the town should not do so until pending litigation is resolved, said Municipal Attorney Sean Gertner at the council meeting.
The Appellate decision says the court is not granting the stay because "the appellants have yet to demonstrate" that the town will cause the businesses "irreparable harm" by enforcing the parking plan while waiting for the lawsuit to be ajudicated, according to a copy of the brief written decision.
Regarding the boardwalk's Superior Court lawsuit to try to permanently block midnight bar closings, the 27-page document was dated June 29 by Ronald Gasiorowski, attorney for Jenkinson's and Martell's, and dated July 3 by the court in Toms River.
"Enough is enough," Gertner said after the meeting. "This lawsuit is unnecessary litigation. They should have exhausted their administrative remedies," meaning the boardwalk should have waited for the outcome of the ABC appeal before filing suit.
Gertner said, "The additional litigation will be defended vigorously."
A state administrative law judge is expected to hear the ABC appeal. That decision will then go to ABC Director Michael Halfacre who granted "a stay" to allow bars to stay open until 2 a.m. until a final decision is made. Halfacre can either approve or not approve the decision by the administrative law judge.
The lawsuit regarding bar closings is filed against the governing body, the Borough of Point Beach, Barrella and Councilmembers Kristine Tooker, Bret Gordon and Michael Corbally, who have voted for the earlier bar closings and District 4 parking plan.
Dan Friendly, Ocean Avenue, told Barrella the town is hurting smaller bars a lot more than the two large boardwalk bars.
"Frankie's, Marlin's, Broadway Bar and Grill, the ARC, will all go out of business, Friendly said. "Innocent people, who never did anything to this council or this town are getting hurt because of the pissing contest between the Boardwalk and the council."
"You're pointing a finger in one direction," Barrella replied. "And you've done that before. There is always potential for a settlement. But there has to be a reasonable approach. You can't have meetings where you sit down in good faith to try to talk and then you get accused of extortion."
Gasiorowski, Jenkinson's attorney Ed McGlynn and Anthony Storino, one of the owners at Jenkinson's, were at the council meeting at first, but left a while before it ended. Patch did not call them afterwards due to the late hour, but will call Wednesday and follow the story as more information becomes available.