Garwood Wins Lawsuit Versus the Pointe Over Snow Removal
The borough and the condo association disagreed on whether the roads inside the condo entrances are internal roadways or private driveways.
At Tuesday's Garwood Borough Council meeting, Borough Attorney Joseph Triarsi announced that a judge had decided in Garwood's favor in a lawsuit brought by the Pointe condo community.
The borough and the Pointe had been involved in ongoing litigation over whether the borough should provide snow removal. The borough believes the roads inside the condo entrances (Maple Court and Chestnut Court) are internal roadways and not municipal roads, and therefore had refused to plow them. The Pointe residents argue that the New Jersey’s Municipal Services Act requires the borough to provide services to private communities or reimburse those communities for such services.
At Tuesday's borough council meeting, Triarsi announced the verdict.
"I am pleased to report that on June 22, Judge Cassidy, the presiding judge, found in favor of borough in connection with Pointe litigation and dismissed the complaint with prejudice," said Triarsi. "The court determined that these roadways are private driveways serving the garages."
The Pointe residents have been outspoken at recent council meetings about the lawsuit, especially in light of the high taxes they pay and what the land was before the condos existed.
Residents have argued that the 44-unit age-restricted condo community pays exceedingly high taxes in the borough – roughly $11,000 to $14,000 annually per unit depending on the size of the unit – and yet, the community is not provided with snow removal and must also foot the bill for streetlights and fire hydrants.
Residents have further argued that because the Pointe is an age-restricted community, they do not send children to Garwood schools and yet they pay twice the taxes of the average Garwood taxpayer.
"I would like to remind all of you of what that site looked like before the Mews and the Pointe was up there. It was a toxic dump and it was an eyesore," said Pointe resident Tom Pedas at council meeting in May. "The 44 condo owners pay over half a million dollars a year in taxes. What are we asking for in return? Shovel our snow a couple times a year. Pick up our garbage twice a week. I don't think that's asking too much for over half a million dollars that we're bringing in."
Pedas was in attendance on Tuesday night and voiced his disappointment. He also demanded again to know whether Triarsi is paid annually or hourly and what salary he gets for overtime.
"It's fascinating to me that some of you would not blink an eye at spending $1.6 million dollars for an athletic field, but to plow the streets of snow a couple times a year at the Pointe you hired a lawyer to fight this case," said Pedas. "Thanks for making us feel very welcome here."
Pointe resident Mildred Deer also spoke up about the case.
"You tax us to the hilt," said Deer. "You actually went and got a lawyer to fight snow plowing. How could you do that, Garwood? You should be jumping through the rooftops that we took land that was actually an eyesore and developed a beautiful place, so much so that the state came in and said we're going to give you an award for that. Did you ever put it in the paper? No. If Westfield had gotten that award, and I lived in Westfield for a longtime, they would have had it in every paper."
Attached here, a PDF on the ruling.