Rumored Morale Problems Plague the Cranford Municipal Building
Within a short period of time Cranford employees have quit. A few examples:
Zoning Officer
Township Engineer
Downtown Business & Economic Development Director
Police Chief
Assistant Zoning Officer
Township Clerk
Tax Collector


By Leslie Murray
January 14, 2010

CRANFORD—While the township’s fight against two affordable housing lawsuits filed by developers in 2008 continues in the courts, the Township Committee made their objections to the process known this week when they reluctantly agreed to pay for a report by the court-appointed Court Master on both suits.

During the workshop meeting Monday, Commissioner David Robinson questioned if the Township Committee could refuse to pay the bills submitted by Elizabeth McKenzie, the court-appointed expert on the two affordable housing suits against the township, for a report that the township found unacceptable.

Responding to the question, Township Attorney Carl Woodward said that while the commissioners could object in court to the report and could scrutinize the submitted bills, Cranford was responsible for paying its portion of the services rendered by McKenzie.

McKenzie’s report is related to the lawsuits filed by Lehigh Acquisitions in January 2008 and The S.Hekemian Group in November 2008, both of which claim that the township failed to meet requirements under the state’s Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) regulations as related to the 1975 Mount Laurel case that requires all New Jersey municipalities to provide a specific amount of affordable housing.

Lehigh Acquisitions filed suit after negotiations with the township broke down over the number of units at the site, known as 555 South Avenue East. The S.Hekemian Group filed their suit after their request to the Township Committee for a zone change on Birchwood Avenue was directed to the Planning Board.

After the initial consideration, Mayor Mark Smith said on Tuesday, Jan. 12 before the official meeting that while the committee may disagree with the report, there was a legal responsibility to pay for the work. He added that, because of the legal proceedings, the committee had no choice but to meet the obligations related to the court costs.

As they considered the resolution to pay the bill, each of the commissioners made statements listing their objections, though only Commissioner Dan Aschenbach voted against the passage.

Calling the report “inaccurate in many cases,” Aschenbach said the Township Committee might have an obligation to pay the bill but “we don’t have an obligation to take this density.”

“None of us want actually to pay this expense, but that would inappropriate because we are under a court order,” Commissioner Mark Dugan said before reluctantly supporting the resolution.