Government South Orange

Rosner: Wainco Appeal Could Hold Up South Orange Village Hall Development for 6 Months

An appeal filed by Wainco South Orange LLC on October 25 could stall the redevelopment and sale of South Orange Village Hall by as much as six months, according to South Orange Village Trustee Mark Rosner.

On October 25, South Orange Village President Sheena Collum notified constituents that Stuart Wainberg of Wainco “filed an appeal with the Superior Court of New Jersey to stop the redevelopment of Village Hall into a restaurant and indoor/outdoor beer garden.”

The building, which had become dilapidated by long-deferred maintenance, had cost the Township of South Orange Village millions in renovations. To avoid millions more in needed improvements, the Township posted an RFP for the sale of the property more than three years ago. Landmark Hospitality was the winning bidder, and the town is anticipating a payment of approximately $1.2 million with the close of the sale — after the appeal is settled.

Redevelopment and financial plans for the building were approved by the South Orange Village Trustees in 2015. The site plan was approved by the South Orange Planning Board in August. Wainco filed an appeal just before the 45-day period to file (from the date that notice of the board’s decision is published in the municipality’s official newspaper of record) ran out.

The South Orange Planning Board and the applicant Landmark Hospitality were named in Wainberg’s appeal.

At Monday night’s Board of Trustees meeting, Village Administrator Barry Lewis gave a brief update, noting that the Township was “working to move forward with [Landmark’s] counsel.”

Trustee Mark Rosner then asked Village Counsel Steve Rother to “go over the timeline for Landmark — I don’t want anyone to think this is a one-month process.”

Rother replied, “By the end of the week we will hopefully be moving to intervene in that matter on behalf of the Village because the Village is of course the owner of the property.” Rother said that the Township would “intervene and defend alongside the [Planning] Board.” Rother said that the Township was “trying to move along as expeditiously” as possible.

Rosner replied, “But not one month?”

“Certainly not,” said Rother.

Rosner then noted that the appeal process “could drag on for six months.”

In April, Wainberg approached the town about the potential redevelopment of 75 South Orange Avenue which is across the street from Village Hall. Wainberg appeared at the April South Orange Development Committee meeting to discuss marrying development of his property with a proposed 130-unit Hub Realty-Lustbader/Blockbuster development.

During the site plan approval process for the Landmark development of Village Hall, Daniel Bernstein, a lawyer for Wainco was a fixture at many of the Planning Board hearings on the Village Hall project, submitting materials related to parking and traffic and extensively cross-examining witnesses. Based on Bernstein’s appearances at the Planning Board hearings, Wainco’s objections would seem to be related to the impact on surrounding properties and businesses of potential traffic and parking demands generated by a restaurant/beer garden/catering hall use at Village Hall.

Wainberg has not yet responded to two requests for comment.

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