Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Is Wanaque's Townhouse 'Horror' Finally Over?

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Is Wanaque's Townhouse 'Horror' Finally Over?

Article excerpt

WANAQUE — The resurrected 47-unit Lakeside Manor townhouse project appears to be back on track after 15 years of inactivity that resulted in abandoned, unfinished and dilapidated structures that became known as the "horror" of the neighborhood.

Construction at the Mountain Lakes Drive site came to a halt 15 years ago when the developer abandoned the project. Since then an unfinished structure, which was to be the first of eight buildings, was left behind to rot in the woodsy, 15-home neighborhood.

One of the neighbors described the deteriorating townhouse as a rat-infested "horror," that was sinking area property values. The eyesore couldn't be missed, and was one of the first sites at the bottom of the street.

Neighbors had pressed for action at the site for years, until finally last spring the borough managed to rekindle talks with the developer, Jacinto Rodrigues, eventually reaching a deal. The abandoned structure was demolished to its foundations just days after the 16-point May agreement was reached.

The demolition marked a major turning point in the long-standing dispute among the borough, neighbors and Rodrigues. The agreement contained detailed stipulations and timelines that essentially put a countdown clock on the developer.

If time expires the developer forfeits his rights to develop the Lakeside Manor property.

The land would then become open space under the terms of the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act.

Borough Administrator Thomas Carroll has been keeping neighbors updated through email responses and at Borough Council meetings. To the annoyance of the neighbors, the developer hasn't been adhering strictly to the agreed upon timeline.

But he has been steadily checking off the items on the list. Officials have said the alternative is a protracted court battle they would prefer to avoid.

Rodrigues submitted $1. …

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