Council Grants New Mantoloking Taxi Conditional Approval to Operate
Taxi company only permitted to use commercially-zoned areas for their business, and will have license revoked if use of their residentially-zoned area continues
After an hour-long discussion at Tuesday night’s township council meeting, the governing body ultimately chose to allow New Mantoloking Taxi to operate under a new license approval agreement through September — albeit one with very specific conditions.
New Mantoloking owns two lots on its property, one zoned for commercial purposes and one for residential purposes. However, a conflict arose when the owner of the taxi company paved over the residential-zoned lot in order to use it for the purposes of his business, which left neighbors none too pleased.
An attorney representing the taxi company, John Jackson, began the dialogue by saying that the matter of his client paving over the residential lot he owned and using it to park taxi cabs was currently before the Brick Township Board of Adjustment, and referenced the previous license approval granted in April.
“The council was gracious enough to give my client enough time to rectify that,” said Jackson.
Jackson said that at the June 6 Board of Adjustment meeting, he and his client were notified that there was an issue where their escrow payment had not been received, and that they had received a date of July 18 where the matter would proceed before that organization. Though, Jackson maintained that the escrow had in fact since been paid in full.
“My client is prepared to take out the asphalt and restore the property, if the Board of Adjustment does not approve the variance,” said Jackson.
The attorney added that he understood the council’s concerns, but that it was to the community’s benefit to have a working taxi cab company in operation.
Councilman Dan Toth presented the idea of renewing the license, but not allowing the taxi company to use the residential-zoned parcel of land.
Jackson said that he thought his client’s plan would be well-received by the Board of Adjustment, but that it was a challenge for the lone board to cover a “thriving commercial center” of 80,000 people.
Councilwoman Susan Lydecker said that resolutions passed in September 2011 and April 2012 disallowed the taxi company from using the residential lot in question, yet the company continued to do so regardless.
“I don’t want a business to close. Surely, I don’t want a business to close in Brick. There were two resolutions passed, and your client ignored them both times,” Lydecker commented.
Township Attorney Jean Cipriani said that the license extension granted to New Mantoloking in September 2011 required removal of vehicles from the lot, but that the subsequent one passed in April 2012 was less clear on that issue.
Additionally, Cipriani said that the council could propose a temporary license renewal for New Mantoloking Taxi Company, under the conditions of only using the properly-zoned areas and lots, but inferred that to completely deny the license would potentially open up the town to litigation.
Several residents spoke out against the taxi cab company, with a recurring viewpoint that New Mantoloking’s business had outgrown the limits of their property.
John Dadamo, a Sterling Avenue resident, stated his objection to New Mantoloking continuing to use their residentially-zoned area as a parking lot for their cabs, saying that it lowered the property values of homes in the neighborhood adjacent to the business’s location.
“Lots were taken without consent of process or procedure, and it’s adding to increased propensity for cars, cabs and employees of the cab to whiz around the back streets (there) without paying attention to any speed limits, and may result in an accident,” said Dadamo, a Brick resident since 1957. “I don’t believe there’s any sincerity on the part of the cab company in wanting to keep the license.”
Former Councilman Michael Thulen, a resident of Linden Avenue, added that there is an ordinance on the books where an applicant cannot proceed before the Board of Adjustment unless they resolve the conditions they may have deviated from.
Nan Coll of Greenbriar Boulevard said that the cab owner had to “think about this issue in the long-term” and the council should only offer to extend the license with specific conditions.
Jackson returned to address the mayor and council, and said that he didn’t know if the town could craft an ordinance directed at one business — but Cipriani made clear that wasn’t what the council intended.
“The council could have an ordinance that requires that the operations of the business take place solely on the lot owned by the business,” Cipriani directed.
Since the prior license approval passed in April of this year only lasted until July 1, Cipriani added that if no action were taken by the council that evening and New Mantoloking’s operations license were to lapse, she foresaw an application for emergency relief on their behalf to Ocean County Superior Court.
“I think that’s something that they would honestly succeed on,” said Cipriani.
Jackson said that it “didn’t make sense” to him to shut down the taxi company, but provided that his client would remove the cars from the unapproved lot, if that’s what it would take to have the license renewed.
Toth recommended renewing the license, on the condition that the taxi cab company not use the residential-zoned lot at all — and if they chose to do so, that would cause an “immediate revocation” of the operations license.
Councilman Jim Fozman inquired if the business had expanded since the residential lot was paved over, to which several audience members responded in the affirmative.
“I think this will come to a head on July 18 (before the Board of Adjustment),” said Fozman. “The business outgrew the lot.”
Jackson continued that one resident mentioned he had lived in Brick since 1957, but that Brick had now grown into a community of 80,000 people, and there is a bigger need for taxi cabs and transportation.
Toth then proposed an official resolution for the license renewal, with the conditions that New Mantoloking not utilize the residential-zoned lot and not park any of their commercial vehicles on surrounding residential streets — otherwise, an immediate revocation of their license would then take place.
All council members voted to approve the resolution granting the license under those specific conditions, with the exception of Council President John Ducey.
“With the lot not being used, and that was the problem with the license, the thing that bothers me is that the escrow was depleted. They didn’t get the hearing, but they wouldn’t have gotten the hearing, because the escrow was depleted. I vote no,” said Ducey.
Councilman Domenick Brando, a vocal opponent of the taxi cab company’s actions in the past, was not present at Tuesday’s council meeting due to a death in his family.