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UPDATE: Point Beach to Fight Court Decision Threatening Parking Plan

Judge Grasso's decision killing Point Beach parking plan
Judge Grasso's decision killing Point Beach parking plan  Download PDF 

Point Beach will try to temporarily put the brakes on a court decision that threatens the District 4 summer, overnight parking plan.

Superior Court Judge Vincent Grasso, sitting in Toms River, says in a written opinion that Councilman Michael Corbally, a Realtor in District 4, has a conflict of interest because his business is in District 4 where the plan restricts summertime, overnight parking.

"We're going to file for a stay very quickly, possibly tomorrow," said Mayor Vincent Barrella. He said municipal attorney Sean Gertner has the authorization from the Point Beach governing body to file for a stay.

When asked when or if the governing body voted to authorize such action, who voted for it and who voted against it, Barrella said he could not comment on that.

No such action was taken during the public portion of Tuesday night's Point Beach council meeting and Barrella said he did not find out Grasso's decision, dated Monday, until Wednesday.

Barrella said he also personally believes that the municipality should file an appeal, but that that decision is up to council.

Councilman William Mayer said the council discussed the matter in a closed session on Tuesday night.

"There was a consensus that Sean would file for a stay" if Grasso ruled against the town, Mayer said. "I didn't object to it."

When asked why he did not object given that he has been against the parking plan, Mayer said, "I don't know. It was late, I didn't know what the grounds would be. I didn't think Grasso would rule this way on Corbally having a conflict. It was a surprising decision.

"No one knew last night what Grasso's decision would be. Sean was concerned about the 'what ifs,' " Mayer said.
 
Mayer would not say how other members of the governing body felt about Gertner filing for a stay, other than to say that there was a general "consensus." He said, "There was no vote. You can't vote in executive session."
No one was absent from the Tuesday night meeting.

When asked if he is still against the parking plan, Mayer said, "I don't know. I want to think about it. I didn't read all of Grasso's decision yet. I just want to think about it."

Councilman Stephen Reid said late Wednesday afternoon that while he would not divulge what was discussed in executive session regarding authorizing Gertner to file for a stay, he agrees with Grasso's decision.

"I think Grasso got it right," said Reid, who has mostly been against the parking plan, other than saying during his campaign that he was having mixed feelings about it after talking to numerous residents who felt it was helping their neighborhoods.

When asked if he is in favor of the stay and an appeal, he said, "I would have to discuss that with my colleagues. What he (Grasso) said is what he said and we'll go with that for now."

Barrella said on Wednesday that Grasso is unnecessarily interfering in a municipality's ability to pass policy and, in essence, stating that a Realtor, and perhaps owners of other businesses as well, cannot effectively serve as an elected official in Point Beach.

"It's a bad decision," Barrella said. "It's a horrendous, poorly-reasoned decision by an appointed judge that effectively disenfranchises hundreds of voters in Point Beach."

"Furthermore, it is on dubious constitutional grounds since any Realtor would effectively be prohibited from running," Barrella said.

"Any business owner may be similarly prohibited," he added. "That an unelected  judge in Ocean County would interfere in municipal government is an outrage and a disgrace."

To see a copy of Grasso's decision, please see attached PDF.

Ronald Gasiorowski, the attorney representing Purple Jet Fishing Charters t/Queen Mary, in this lawsuit, and also representing Martell's in a similar lawsuit pending in federal court, said on Wednesday, when asked if the decision makes it difficult for a local business owner to serve on a governing body in the same municipality where he or she owns a business, "I think there's a fine line. The judge found that he has a business in that district and he may make a great deal of money there. And the laws in New Jersey are very strict in regards to conflicts."

"From the beginning, I thought Corbally, however well intentioned, had a conflict of interest and the judge agreed with me. He threw out the ordinance (creating the parking plan)."

Patch left a voice mail message for Corbally and will post his comments when they are available.

Barrella noted that the other attorney on the matter before Grasso is John Jackson, the president of the local Republican club and that Marilyn Burke, a local Republican club official, is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the parking plan.

The parking plan went into effect this year on May 15. It restricts overnight parking in District 4, allowing only residents and property owners, who obtain parking placards for their cars, to park on roads owned by the town in District 4.
 
Patch is continuing to work on this story now, so frequent updates will be added.
Rick Ricky June 21, 2013 at 10:20 PM
Politics as usual. I would not consider Corbally the only council member who has or had a conflict of interest. Just saying
The Real World June 23, 2013 at 08:53 PM
Except no Judge ever said any of those others actually had a conflict; all we heard were rumor and innuendo. Where Corbally is concerned a Judge has determined there was a conflict, not a rumor.
The Real World June 24, 2013 at 07:41 AM
@RR--As usual, you are part of the problem. If you think others on the council have conflicts, do something about it or be silent. Truth is none of the others have any conflicts, except in Barrella's mind, and in other minds like yours. who buy his self serving nonsense. Corbally IS the only member of the council to have his vote nullified because he voted where he had a conflict. Barrella knows the others don't have conflicts or he would have reported them long ago.
The Real World June 26, 2013 at 04:38 PM
And yet not a single vote was overturned by a Judge, as Corbally's was. In fact, none of these votes were even challenged by those yelling conflict. Perhaps they knew there really was no conflict. Unlike Corbally's case where the conflict was crystal clear.

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