2002-10-23 / Front Page

Spalliero taking Marlboro back to court over homes

Lawsuit targets land
that housed airport
for 50 years
By karl vilacoba
Staff Writer

Spalliero taking Marlboro
back to court over homes
Lawsuit targets land
that housed airport
for 50 years
By karl vilacoba
Staff Writer

A prediction by Marlboro Mayor Matthew Scan-napieco and Planning Board members last month that developers might sue for the right to build high-density affordable housing units on the former Marlboro Airport property has come to fruition.

Marlboro Holdings, LLC has joined two other plaintiffs, Ticetown Holdings, LLC and Crawford Holdings, LLC in a lawsuit that seeks relief on the grounds that current zoning in Marlboro doesn’t "provide a realistic opportunity for the construction of substantial low- and moderate-income housing units." Named as defendants in the suit are Marlboro Township, the Township Council and the Planning Board.

Both Ticetown Holdings and Crawford Holdings maintain addresses at Crawfords Corner Road, Holmdel, in care of Anthony Spalliero.

Spalliero is a prominent figure in Marlboro property transactions and development deals. He has previously sued the township over affordable housing issues and won settlements authorized by the mayor and Township Council.

According to this latest lawsuit, Marlboro has not adopted or received certification on a Housing Element and Fair Share Plan approved by the state Council On Affordable Housing (COAH). Among the measures of relief sought are the rezoning of the included properties at a density of up to 10 homes per acre and payment of the plaintiffs’ legal costs.

Collectively, the lots named in the lawsuit comprise a string of properties that start from Route 79, cross Harbor Road, and finally cross Tennent Road. Several of the lots were included in an age-restricted development zone proposed in the township’s latest master plan amendment.

The Marlboro Holdings properties comprise what are commonly known as the 50-acre airport property. However, one new lot has been added under the airport umbrella that was not part of the master plan amendment. A 6.4-acre qualified farm, which municipal tax records say is owned by John and Barbara Gianguzzi, is now included.

The lot was used as the driveway to the airport for several years through an easement, and could provide any potential development with access to Route 79. The airport property line actually ended at the NJ Transit right of way, now being developed as the Henry Hudson Trail Extension.

Three of the Ticetown Holdings lots were among the four proposed as additions to the airport in an expanded age-restricted housing zone in the master plan amendment. According to municipal records, one is owned by Scott and Brenda Carbone and two are owned by Dominick and Carmella Manzo. They collectively add up to approximately 67 acres.

The Planning Board’s recommendation to include the lots in the expanded airport zone, first proposed by board member Stanley Young, has been a source of controversy at recent council meetings. The additional lots were incorporated into the plan after the public comment period of the master plan hearings was finished.

Young and board Chairman Mario Giudice have since said that the properties were chosen on their own merits because they were vacant lands that would no longer be protected by the Airport Hazard Zone, which demanded low-density residential zoning.

The council asked the two board members to further explain this decision during a special Q&A at the Sept. 12 council meeting. At that time, the board members, along with Scannapieco, warned that COAH lawsuits intended to develop the area as high-density housing could happen when the latest round of Mount Laurel obligations were due. By rezoning the area as a planned adult community, it would block such attempts and result in an outstanding tax ratable for the township, they said.

The council has not yet voted on the plan to rezone the airport and the now Ticetown Holdings properties.

The last group of lots, controlled by Crawford Holdings, contain approximately 28 acres on Tennent Road. The property is directly across Tennent Road from the lot registered to the Carbones. Currently, the lots are zoned LC (Land Conservation), or one home per 5 acres.

COAH is a nine-member board that is appointed by the governor. The council is responsible for providing municipalities with a framework of regulations on how to prepare comprehensive affordable housing responses to meet obligations. The board also acts as an administrative alternative to litigation proceedings.

COAH assigns a "fair share" number of affordable housing units a town must allow for. That number periodically increases to reflect population changes. In most cases, developments built under COAH agreements contain only a small percentage of units set aside for sale or rental to people whose income meets regional guidelines. The COAH regulations also allow developing communities to sell off some of their affordable housing obligation to developed towns that want to rehabilitate substandard housing.

Spalliero, who is the part-owner of a cemetery that borders the former airport, has sued Marlboro in the past for the right to build affordable housing units. This year’s master plan amendment proposed changes to reflect some of the resulting settlements, including a recent agreement to rezone a parcel on Ticetown Road to quarter-acre housing from 5-acre parcels.

Spalliero also donated the land near the airport to the township Board of Education that was developed as the Marlboro Early Learning Center.

In a January letter to Giudice, Marlboro Holdings, LLC principal David Berman cited that school’s proximity to the airport as a reason to close the airport.

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