Real estate developer John Simone said on Thursday (Aug. 18) that he is moving forward with his lawsuit against Lawrence Township now that the township's zoning board has formally memorialized a resolution of its June 22 rejection – by a 4-2 vote – of Simone’s controversial application for a use variance that would have allowed a 38-bed inpatient alcohol and drug detoxification facility to move into a building Simone owns on Federal City Road.
The zoning board voted unanimously to memorialize that book-length resolution Wednesday night (Aug. 17).
In an , Simone said that, by law, he could not file his lawsuit until the memorialization was done.
"Yes, I'm still planning to go ahead with the lawsuit," Mr. Simone said Thursday morning. "I'm meeting with my lawyer about it this afternoon."
The lawsuit is part of a dual strategy Simone is employing in his effort to install a detox center in the 17,209-square-foot building, which sits at the entrance to the Traditions at Federal Point adult community and directly behind the homes in another development that includes Frederick Court and Karena Lane. A nursery school is also located nearby.
Simone’s application for the use variance drew vehement protests from area residents, who said they feared for their safety and believed such a facility should not be located so close to residential neighborhoods. From November 2010 through to June, nine exhausting and often-heated zoning board hearings were held about the application.
In addition to the legal appeal of the zoning board’s rejection that he intends to file, Simone has been talking to township officials about obtaining a zoning permit that would allow the building to be used for an outpatient detox center.
He's also been conferring with two firms about the possibility of operating such an outpatient center – Florida-based Sunrise Detox, which would have run the proposed inpatient center, and another firm which he declined to name.
"The township and I are still talking about the outpatient plan and the zoning permit," Simone said Thursday.
Simone has said that he initiated the talks about an outpatient center, and applied for the zoning permit, because he is concerned about how long and arduous a course the appeal before the Superior Court will be on the rejection of the original inpatient center proposal.
Also memorialized Wednesday night was a resolution of the board's unanimous that will harvest electricity from the sun. The farm, to be installed on the Rider University campus near Interstate 95, will include more than 2,600 solar panels.
In other business at Wednesday night's meeting, the zoning board unanimously approved a variance needed for signs at Dick Greenfield Dodge on Route 1. Under the approval, four “Chrysler Motors” signs can be erected near an archway, which bears the Greenfield name. Brian Slaugh, the board's planner, said he saw "no adverse impact" in putting up the signs.