ROSELAND, N.J./October 20, 2010 -- After five years of litigation, Connell Foley partner Brendan Judge won a crucial decision from the New Jersey Appellate Division that will permit Judge’s client, the Market Street Mission, to open its Jersey Shore Rescue Mission on Memorial Drive in Asbury Park.
On October 1, 2010 the Appellate Division issued its long-awaited ruling in the lawsuit filed by the Market Street Mission against the City of Asbury Park’s Zoning Board of Adjustment stemming from the Board’s denial of the Mission’s January 2005 application for four use variances that would permit it to open and operate the Jersey Shore Rescue Mission in Asbury Park. The Market Street Mission is a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian mission that has been administering to the poor, homeless, and addicted in Morristown, New Jersey, for 120 years. By its application before the Asbury Park Zoning Board, the Mission sought to bring its program to serve the needy in the Asbury Park area.
The services that the Mission envisions for Asbury Park involve providing a hot meal each night to as many as 100 needy men, women, and children and emergency shelter for up to 27 homeless men. The Mission’s program also involves residential and non-residential, drug and alcohol addiction counseling, and job skills training program for another 10 men through the Mission’s Life Change Program. The services are to be provided to members of the public of all faiths, and are free of charge.
The Mission’s application has a tortured history. After almost a year of hearings, the Zoning Board initially denied the Mission’s application finding that the Mission’s proposed use was not inherently beneficial. The Mission appealed that ruling to the Superior Court, and the Hon. Alfred Lehrer remanded the matter back to the Board after finding the Board’s ruling to be arbitrary and capricious. After conducting additional hearings, the Board found the Mission’s use to be inherently beneficial, and granted the application after imposing 15 special conditions.
A group of citizens calling themselves “Stand Up for Asbury Park” filed a Complaint in Superior Court seeking reversal of that decision, and the City of Asbury Park joined that lawsuit on the side of the citizens’ group. The Superior Court remanded the matter to the Zoning Board, which conducted extensive additional hearings on the Mission’s application, and voted once again to deny the application in its entirety. The Mission appealed that decision to the Superior Court, and the Hon. Lawrence Lawson affirmed that decision after conducting a bench trial.
The Mission then appealed that decision to the Appellate Division, which on October 1st reversed the Zoning Board’s denial of the four use variances, finding the Board’s denial to be arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable. In so doing, the Court addressed and rejected each of the concerns raised by the citizens’ group and the City. The Court ruled that there is no credible evidence to support the Citizen Group’s objections. Such concerns, the Court found, were based on “pure speculation.”
In conclusion the Court found that “the evidence before the Board demonstrated that there was a substantial need in the City for the services as proposed by the Mission.” The Court reversed the denial of the four variances and remanded the matter to the Board to set reasonable conditions.
The Mission’s Executive Director David Scott said: “We are very pleased that the appellate court has recognized the value of the vital services the Mission provides to the needy, and we look forward to working with the Asbury Park officials to serve the people of the Asbury Park community.” Brendan Judge agreed: “This was a hard-fought victory for the Jersey Shore Rescue Mission, but it’s actually a win for all parties involved. Once the Mission is up and running, the City officials and the citizens will see that there was nothing to fear. The Mission will be a great asset to the entire community.”
While this was the first time Mr. Judge represented the Market Street Mission, he is no stranger to charitable causes or public service. He and his wife, Beth, have been active in the Fresh Air Fund for years hosting inner city children during the summer. He sits on the Board of Directors of the Samaritan Center At The Jersey Shore, which was recently created to provide counseling, education, and spiritual enrichment for families and individuals in the greater Monmouth County area. Mr. Judge also serves on the Board of Directors of the Notre Dame Law School Association, which advises the law school Dean on strategic planning, curriculum, finances, management, operations, and resources. He is the founding President of the Board of Trustees of the Spring Lake Educational Foundation, a non-profit foundation incorporated in 2007 to enhance the educational experience for the students of H.W. Mountz School by providing another source for funds for educational programs, activities, and facilities. He also served for nine years as the Spring Lake Municipal Prosecutor.