Jersey Animal Coalition to Vacate Premises, Town to Dismiss Complaints

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The Township of South Orange Village and the Jersey Animal Coalition have reached a settlement in principle for the JAC to vacate its premises at 298 Walton Avenue, according to Village Administrator Barry Lewis.

In exchange for vacating the premises and placing the animals elsewhere, the Township is dismissing all complaints against the JAC, Lewis said. He added that the full details of the settlement will be released shortly; however, a written settlement has not yet been executed.

The JAC animal shelter had been closed from March through July after the township issued a quarantine for what officials said were more than 50 health code violations. The Village then discovered the JAC also had various leasing and personnel violations, according to Deputy Administrator Adam Loehner.

On June 27, the Village sent the JAC a letter stating it had ten days to resolve the issues before eviction proceedings would be initiated on July 9. On July 7, the JAC filed documents for “emergent relief” citing the unconstitutionality of the South Orange Code among other things. A Superior Court ruled that day to temporarily lift a quarantine on the Jersey Animal Coalition animal shelter and halt eviction proceedings ordered by the Village of South Orange. A full hearing date was set for August 20.

On August 11, Lewis said that the Township and the JAC were working on a settlement.

The Village Green reached out to Lewis today after being forwarded an email from the JAC Volunteer email group. The email read in part: “Many of you have heard by now but for those who have not, I am sorry to have to be the bearer of very sad news: JAC will be vacating the premises in the town of South Orange. We have less than 120 days to find homes for the remaining animals.  That is not a lot of time. At the board meeting last night, it was decided to form a committee to organize the effort to relocate our animals.”

JAC volunteers will be meeting Thursday, August 21 to discuss finding placements for animals currently in the shelter.

Lewis explained that, according to the agreement in principle, the JAC has 30 days to remove all the animals from the shelter. If they show good faith progress in 30 days, the JAC can obtain more time for removal. After that, the JAC has another 30 days to remove furniture and other appurtenances. If they vacate and place the animals elsewhere, the town will dismiss all complaints against the JAC.

Lewis said that it is his understanding that the JAC is “contemplating a future but that will not involve a location — perhaps something online.” The Village Green has reached out to JAC founder and president Ruth Perlmutter for more details and for comment. This story will be updated.

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