Court informed all parties that the hearing would begin immediately and continue every day until a determination was reached.
Prior to commencement of any hearings on February 26, 1992 the parties, through counsel, entered into settlement negotiations. These negotiations resulted in an agreement between the Council, sitting as the Redevelopment Agency, and plaintiff to settle the relocation claim for $ 285,000. The Council members, in open court voted unanimously in favor of the settlement. This settlement was embodied in the Consent Order signed by the court and filed on March 12, 1992. The Consent Order provided that "the Municipal Council shall at their regularly scheduled meeting to be held on March 3, 1992 adopt the appropriate and necessary legislation to appropriate the funds to pay the agreed upon sum to plaintiff and shall in all respects cause said funds to be paid to plaintiff in an expeditious manner."
Apparently on the advice of the city's Corporation Counsel, not special counsel Millichap, the Council deferred the March 3, 1992 vote, and thereafter failed to take action at its next meeting on March 17, 1992.
On March 23, 1992 plaintiffs received correspondence from Jean D. Barrett, Esq., purporting to represent Robert L. Brown in his capacity as Mayor of the City of Orange Township. In that letter Ms. Barrett indicated Mayor Brown's consideration to withhold authorization of the payment of the settlement on the basis of alleged violation of the open Public Meetings Act ("Sunshine Law"), and because of an alleged failure to budget for the settlement. In discussions before the court, the Mayor orally asserted his contention that the City Council, sitting as a Redevelopment Agency, did not have authority to settle the relocation claim without the Mayor's active participation in and approval of the negotiation of any settlement on behalf of the Redevelopment Agency. For this proposition the Mayor indicated he was relying upon the Faulkner Act.
Frank Candeliere, brought this motion requesting the following relief:
1. to join as a party defendant, if necessary to implement the settlement, the Mayor of the City of Orange Township as a City Officer to the extent he is responsible for and authorized to implement the terms of the Consent order, and to execute any settlement check;
2. to join as a party defendant, to the extent necessary and as its interest may appear, the City of Orange Township as the entity responsible for and authorized to implement the terms of the Consent Order and to pay any settlement of this matter;
3. to order and direct, under penalties of Contempt of Court, the enforcement of the settlement set forth in the Consent Order; and
4. the imposition of such other and further sanctions as the court finds just to make whole the plaintiff for the unjustified and improper delay in the completion of the settlement of this matter.
A brief in opposition to plaintiff's application for Order to Show Cause was filed on behalf of Mayor Robert L. Brown and the City of Orange Township. The opposition maintains that the settlement must be set aside on essentially two grounds: (1) the settlement was approved at a meeting held in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act, and (2) the settlement does not include indispensable parties.
At an open public meeting of the City Council, Acting as the Redevelopment Agency, on April 7, 1992, Councilman Lewis indicated that the March 3, 1992 meeting failed to produce any action because "a discussion and debate arose relative to the method of payment, not the judiciousness of it, but simply the method of payment." In the Matter of: A Special Meeting of the City Council # 84-92 Modern Iron Works, transcript at 10 (The City of Orange Township City Council Meeting, April 7, 1992).
At the April 7th meeting, the Council reconvened as the Redevelopment Agency. Assistant Corporation Council Vena addressed the Council at first in open session. He told the Council:
What has been filed as of today is an application on behalf of the City of Orange Township and its mayor to set aside that settlement on the grounds that it was entered into illegally and in an ultravires manner, as it is the position of the City Attorney and City of Orange Township and mayor to pass this resolution would be equally ultravires and illegal.