Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Developer Claims a Win in Ho-Ho-Kus

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Developer Claims a Win in Ho-Ho-Kus

Article excerpt

HO-HO-KUS -- A developer has claimed victory in the yearlong battle over a controversial bid to subdivide 3.66 acres into 11 separate, developable plots.

Ho-Ho-Kus residents with homes close to the mostly wooded land began objecting to Upper Saddle River-based Chamberlain Developers' application to split up the parcel early last year, soon after it was filed.

Last month marked a year since the Planning Board's first public meeting on the proposed subdivision, which Chamberlain Developers has dubbed the Hollows at Ho-Ho-Kus; since late January, a handful of meetings on the application have been canceled.

"Our position is that the board's conduct is unacceptable and the delay on this application has been improper and inappropriate," argued lawyer Bruce Whitaker, who represented the developers over the course of dozens of Ho-Ho-Kus Planning Board meetings.

Whitaker has now declared "default approval" for his clients in a letter he hand-delivered to the borough on April 28.

The attorney claimed in an interview last week that the board took too long to vote on Chamberlain Developers' subdivision and soil movement applications, which forced him to take action.

"The law required them to make a decision within 45 days after submission of a completed, variance-free application. ... It has been over 430 days, with canceled or protracted proceedings," Whitaker said. "They had an affirmative duty to render a decision within the statutory time frame."

The borough's Planning Board has not discussed the Hollows at Ho- Ho-Kus application since a meeting more than three months ago at which the borough's engineer, David Hals, was asked to recuse himself from the proceedings.

The board decided to hire a new planner to review the application after it was revealed Hals had performed previous work for Chamberlain Developers.

"Nothing has happened since then," Whitaker noted.

"They have canceled meeting after meeting, I am getting no response from the board's new planner," he said, referring to Thomas Lemanowicz. …

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