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Bridgewater Courier News
BRIDGEWATER – A Superior Court judge has denied motions by both the township and the developer of the proposed Center of Excellence seeking an immediate resolution by the township planning board.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Miller ruled against Advance Realty and Bridgewater Township on Friday in their respective bids for summary judgement on two counts of Advance Realty’s lawsuit against the planning board.
“I am grateful for the victory today on behalf of our residents, and look forward to a final resolution of this chapter in the saga of the Center of Excellence development,” Bridgewater Mayor Matt Moench said in a statement.
At the center of the legal dispute is a condition of the final approval of the project which has roiled the township. The project, at the southern end of the 109-acre former Sanofi complex, calls for 145,890 square feet of commercial and restaurant space, including a ShopRite, a 124-room hotel, 400 multi-family residential units, 67,501 square feet of commercial office space and 30,433 square feet of medical office/wellness space.
In his decision, however, Miller, wrote that Advance Realty “raises a colorable argument that the Board may have exceeded its authority when it required public notice for a Final Site Plan submission when the [Municipal Land Use Law] MLUL does not allow for such a requirement.”
Miller said Advance Realty’s argument should be examined during a trial “in order to fully examine whether there was any legal basis for the Board to impose such a requirement.”
With both the township’s and Advance Realty’s motions for summary judgment denied, the case will proceed in Somerset County Superior Court.
The multifamily housing will have 40 low- and moderate-income units, part of Bridgewater’s plan to meet its court-mandated affordable housing quota.
Residents of the part of the township where the project would be constructed have argued that the project would worsen traffic in the already congested Route 202-206 corridor.
Moench won election in November on a platform opposing the project.
“In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, it is apparent, now more than ever, how important pharmaceutical research, development, and manufacturing is to our country,” Moench said. “New Jersey, especially towns like Bridgewater, has been the bedrock of that industry. It is the time to step up as a community, as a state, and a country to revitalize those properties which can serve as the home for revitalizing and augmenting these industries.”
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