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In re Petition for Referendum to Repeal Ordinance 2354-12 of Township of West Orange

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

July 23, 2013

IN RE: PETITION FOR REFERENDUM TO REPEAL ORDINANCE 2354-12 OF THE TOWNSHIP OF WEST ORANGE, ESSEXCOUNTY, WINDALE SIMPSON, MARK MEYEROWITZ, ALTHIA TWEITEN, MICHAEL SCHARFSTEIN, and ROSARY MORELLI, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
THE TOWNSHIP OF WEST ORANGE, a Municipal Corporation of the State of New Jersey, ROBERT D. PARISI, Mayor, and KAREN CARNEVALE, Clerk of West Orange Township, Defendants-Respondents, and PRISM GREEN ASSOCIATES IV, L.L.C., PRISM GREEN URBAN RENEWAL ASSOCIATES, IV, L.L.C., AND GP 177 MAIN URBAN RENEWAL, L.L.C., Defendants/Intervenors-Respondents.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued May 28, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Docket No. L-3587-12.

George B. Campen argued the cause for appellants.

William W. Northgrave argued the cause for respondents (McManimon, Scotland & Baumann, L.L.C., attorneys; Jennifer L. Credidio and Mr. Northgrave, on the brief).

DeCotiis, Fitzpatrick & Cole, L.L.P., attorneys for respondents Prism Green Associates, IV, L.L.C., Prism Green Urban Renewal Associates, IV, L.L.C., and GP 177 Main Urban Renewal, L.L.C., join in the brief of respondents Township of West Orange, Robert D. Parisi, and Karen Carnevale.

Before Judges Espinosa and Guadagno.

PER CURIAM

Plaintiffs, Windale Simpson, Mark Meyerowicz, Althia Tweiten, Michael Scharfstein, and Rosary Morelli, appeal from the July 5, 2012 order of the Law Division dismissing their complaint in lieu of prerogative writs. Plaintiffs' complaint challenged the rejection of their petition that sought a referendum on an ordinance adopted by the Township of West Orange. Because plaintiffs' complaint challenging the ordinance was not timely filed and the ordinance was statutorily exempt from referendum, we affirm.

I.

While Thomas Alva Edison is known as the "Wizard of Menlo Park, " many of his best-known inventions were discovered after he established a huge factory and laboratory complex in West Orange. For many years, the Township of West Orange has been attempting to redevelop parts of the Main Street area, including one of the former Edison factories, the Edison Battery Building. Andrew Jacobs, Re-Inventing Edison's Old Neighborhood, N.Y. Times, March 18, 2001.

In 2006, Prism Green Associates (Prism) was designated as redeveloper of the area. Prism planned to construct 650 condominiums, with the Battery Building featured as the centerpiece. Prism began work on the project, but stopped in 2008 due to lack of finances.

On March 20, 2012, the Township of West Orange adopted Ordinance 2354-12 (the Ordinance), providing for the issuance of $6.3 million in general improvement bonds. The Ordinance identified an area in downtown West Orange, the "Downtown Redevelopment Area, " as an "area in need of development." The Edison Battery Building was identified in the Ordinance as a "historically significant" site within the Downtown Redevelopment Area.

On April 5, 2012, plaintiffs submitted a petition containing approximately 1500 signatures, requesting a referendum on the Ordinance. On April 16, 2012, Karen Carnevale, the West Orange Municipal Clerk rejected the petition as prohibited by N.J.S.A. 40:49-27 and ...


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