The Town of Secaucus is suing the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority in an effort to force payment of fees under the Transportation Planning District Act, alleging that the statute calls for 30 percent of any development fees for the municipality.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Based upon information and belief, the Transportation Planning District Fund has been in existence since 2008 and more than $16 million has been collected by Defendant to fund various Meadowlands multi-modal transportation improvement projects,” the 11-page suit, filed in Hudson County Superior Court on Monday, says.
“In accordance with the TDP Act … ‘At least 30% of any development fees collected in accordance with this section shall be used for transportation related projects within the municipality where the development, for which a particular fee was collected, is located.”
The town also alleges that the NJSEA has taken “arbitrary and capricious” actions to not grant them the 30 percent they are owed for several projects.
The four-count suit is seeking declaratory judgement and writ of mandamus, along with claiming breach of statutory express language obligation(s) and breach of statutory duty (fiduciary oversight).
As a result, Secaucus is requesting compensatory damages, statutory damages, Tamper Protection Device (TPD) accounting with verified audit certification, and immediate turnover of the TDP funds.
“The Act, passed in 2008 and was reaffirmed in 2015, has resulted in millions of dollars of fees collected from Secaucus developers by the NJSEA which they have unilaterally spent, without any input from the Town,” Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli said in a statement.
“NJSEA CEO and President, Vincent Prieto, was the Speaker of the Assembly and the sponsor of the legislation. He assured the municipalities in the Meadowlands District the Act was designed to provide a balance by permitting the NJSEA to retain 70% of funds collected for regional priorities and earmarking 30% to be returned to the Towns for transportation related projects within the municipality.”
He continued that Prieto recently reversed his position and now asserts that the town’s share can be determined and administered by the NJSEA without consent, noting that this lawsuit will determine which position is correct.
Gonnelli and Prieto, who also lives in Secaucus, have been political rivals for years, getting into a contentious exchange at the NJSEA’s Meadowlands Master Plan meeting in February of last year, as Patch reported.
A spokesman for the NJSEA said they do not comment on pending litigation.