WAYNE — A choose determined this 7 days that the particular grasp assigned to the township’s affordable-housing situation does not have a conflict of interest for getting labored alongside its attorney on an unrelated matter.

At concern was whether or not Christine Nazzaro-Cofone, the specific grasp, must be recused from participation in the case thanks to her involvement as an skilled witness in a Arranging Board proposal in Edgewater.

The lawyer for the developer in that application, Brian Chewcaskie, is a single of the housing attorneys for Wayne.

Point out Superior Court docket Judge Thomas Brogan determined that the working relationship involving Chewcaskie and Nazzaro-Cofone was far too “discreet” to warrant her recusal. It “does not rise to the degree” of an “look of impropriety,” he stated throughout a Zoom hearing.

Brogan’s ruling, rendered Tuesday from his Paterson bench, proficiently denied a movement to bar Nazzaro-Cofone from the ongoing case.

The Wayne Solar Center at 1655 Valley Road, Wayne.

The Wayne Solar Center at 1655 Valley Highway, Wayne.

Nazzaro-Cofone, who owns a land-use consulting business in the borough of Crimson Bank, was appointed by the court docket to be the particular master in the township’s scenario in November 2015 — 4 months just after it commenced.

In that position, she serves as a negotiator involving the township and likely developers.

The movement to bar Nazzaro-Cofone was built by the operator of 1655 Valley Highway, which entered the scenario following officials ended up stripped of immunity from builder’s solution lawsuits in November 2020. The home has a 156,941-sq.-foot business constructing that is largely empty.

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Her involvement in the Edgewater issue started previous spring and ongoing into the drop, according to Jeffrey Kantowitz, an legal professional for the Valley Highway home proprietor.

Kantowitz tried out to persuade the decide that Nazzaro-Cofone’s months-extended link to the Edgewater subject and simultaneous association with the local case was grounds for recusal. “Which is the place the rub is,” Kantowitz stated. “Which is precisely the place the rub is. This wasn’t a submitted application on May perhaps 15, with a final decision in June for a backyard variance.”

The Edgewater undertaking, to involve a few 25-story towers and 20,000 sq. ft of retail area on land formerly made use of as an oil terminal by Hess Corp., was approved in January.

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Matthew Cavaliere, an attorney, opposed the movement on behalf of the township. He explained the court docket must take into account that the circle of attorneys and planners who manage economical housing is “really little.”

“Sooner or afterwards, if you do this long sufficient,” Cavaliere mentioned, “you get the job done with every person.”

Simply because the movement quickly sidetracked the circumstance, Brogan extended the deadline for the township and Valley Road home operator to appear up with a offer for redevelopment of the 11-acre web page.

Philip DeVencentis is a regional reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited accessibility to the most vital information from your regional community, make sure you subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: [email protected]

This article initially appeared on NorthJersey.com: Wayne NJ housing: Courtroom learn cleared of alleged conflict of curiosity