TOMS RIVER, NJ – A plan hashed out by Toms River Mayor Maurice Hill and Ocean County Freeholder Virginia Haines to move tax dollars illegally from the Ocean County Natural Land Trust Fund into the Toms River Township treasury has been thwarted. The plan which called for Haines and the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders to purchase nearly $2,000,000 in already preserved open space from Toms River was found to be an illegal purchase and Haines was forced to withdraw an ordinance to facilitate the purchase.
Haines and Hill met with influential GOP attorney Lawrence Bathgate and representatives of the owner of the club, the Barcelona family.
An appraisal for the property before Superstorm Sandy valued the property at $10,000,000. That was with a liquor licence and an operating, successful bar. Now, the family, according to county officials is asking for $9,000,000.
Mo Hill and Toms River were approved for a $6,000,000 blue acres grant.
That leaves Hill about $3 million short of the asking price. After mediation, the two sides landed about $1.3 million apart from each other.
Hill and Haines concocted a plan to instead sell $2,000,000 worth of land owned by Toms River to the county to make an offer on the property. That property, according to township records has been appraised at $1,900,000 after Barcelona appealed his tax bill after the club was destroyed during Superstorm Sandy.
Now, Hill remains about $2,000,000 short on the purchase price and he has told many in his circle that purchasing the Surf Club property will be the public political win both he and Councilwoman Maria Maruca need to secure their future reelection.
Hill, now will need to find another way to raise the $2,000,000 after his plan to have Haines illegally use county Green Acres funds fell through. Even in New Jersey, some laws need to be followed by politicians.